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FY 2004 Budget Hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Washington, D.C.

Statement of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection,
before the
Committee on Environment and Public Works
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C.

February 26, 2003

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee: I want to thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss President Bush=s proposed budget for fiscal year 2004. With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I have a written statement I would like to submit for the record.

I = d like to begin, Mr. Chairman, by congratulating you on assuming the chairmanship of this Committee. I am very much looking forward to working with you, your staff, and the members of this Committee to advance our shared goals of cleaner air, purer water, and better protected land.

The President = s budget request of $7.6 billion for the EPA provides the funding we need to advance those goals and to meet our Agency = s mission of protecting human health and safeguarding America = s precious environment. It is a fiscally responsible request that recognizes the many competing priorities on taxpayer resources, particularly with respect to homeland security and a time of possible war, without shortchanging our commitment to environmental protection.

This budget request also advances our commitment to building strong partnerships with state, local, and tribal governments. More than 40 percent of our budget request B some $3.1 billion B will provide direct assistance to our non-federal partners.

I would like to take just a few minutes to point out some of the highlights of the President= s budget request and then I = d be happy to take whatever questions you may have.

To promote cleaner air, the President = s budget requests $617 million in the next fiscal year. These funds will allow us to improve air monitoring and analysis and provide $16.5 million in grants to state, tribal and local governments for air toxics monitoring. They will also allow us to raise to $23.9 million B a $3 million increase B our funding for efforts to combat children = s asthma.

In addition, the President = s budget supports the Administration = s Clear Skies proposal. Clear Skies, which would require mandatory reductions in power plants emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury by 70 percent, is the President = s most important environmental initiative for this year. I look forward to working with the Committee to move Clear Skies legislation to the President = s desk for his signature.

To promote purer water, the President = s budget places a strong emphasis on our core water programs, which have proven so successful over the years. We propose to increase spending on these programs by $55 million, for a total of $470 million. This includes $20 million in Clean Water Section 106 grants and $12 million for Public Water System Supervision grants to our non-federal partners.

Our proposed budget also includes a $5 million increase in grants to help state, local, and tribal governments protect wetlands and $20 million to again fund the program we began last year to help advance watershed protection efforts in20 additional threatened watersheds around the Nation.

This budget also seeks $850 million for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which is less than we requested last year. However, the Administration is committed to financing the Clean Water SRF at this level through fiscal year 2011 B six years beyond any previous commitment. This means the long-term revolving level of the fund will be $2.8 billion, a 40 percent increase over the $2 billion commitment made by the previous Administration.

We also propose to fund the Drinking Water SRF at $850 million a year through 2018, so it can revolve at $1.2 billion a year B a 140 percent increase over the previous goal of $500 million.

Given our proposed increase in our core water programs, the current fiscal restraints, and the variety of innovations we are pioneering, I believe this budget fully supports our commitment to purer water across our country.

To better protect the land, this budget includes two significant increases. The first, an additional $150 million for Superfund cleanup. These additional funds will allow us to start an additional 10-15 construction projects at Superfund sites nationwide. The second, a $10 million increase over last year = s record request for the Brownfields program, brings our request to $210.7 million.

Over the years, both the Superfund and the Brownfields programs have demonstrated their value, not just in restoring the environment and protecting the health of America= s families, but in revitalizing neighborhoods and communities in every part of our country.

In addition, to our traditional environmental mission, EPA plays an important role in homeland security. The President = s budget requests $123 million for our homeland security efforts. These funds will allow us to carry on the work we are doing to help protect the Nation's water infrastructure and will give us resources to enhance our emergency response capabilities.

Given our time constraints, Mr. Chairman, I = d like to just briefly mention several other areas that are fundamental to our ability to meet our mission B our ability to use the best available science and our ability to enforce the law. The President= s budget requests a total of $607 million to develop and apply strong science to address both current and future environmental challenges.

It also asks for $503 million B the largest ever requested for enforcement and a $21 million jump from our request last year. This will allow us to add an additional 100 FTEs (Full Time Equivalents) to our enforcement efforts.

Mr. Chairman, I am confident our budget request fully supports our obligation to be both good stewards of the Nation = s environment and good stewards of taxpayer dollars. It gives us the resources we need to help ensure that we leave America = s environment cleaner and healthier than we found it.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.