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FY 1998 Budget Presentation

Carol M. Browner
Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
FY 1998 Budget Presentation

Washington, DC
February 6, 1997

Over the course of  his first term in office, President Clinton showed that it is possible to significantly reduce the deficit, restore the nation’s economic health, and strengthen the health of our environment -- and with it the health of millions of Americans, particularly our children.

The President’s 1998 budget for the Environmental Protection Agency expands on that commitment -- and that promise.  It builds on the last four years of progress in safeguarding public health and the environment.  And it prepares the nation to meet the environmental challenges of the 21st Century by increasing this agency’s resources for protecting the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land on which we live.

Most importantly, this is a budget for America’s children.  They are the ones who will live most of their lives in the next century.  They are the ones who are so often among the most vulnerable to environmental health risks.  Everything we do to make our air, water and soil cleaner and more healthy, we do for them.

For fiscal year 1998, the President is requesting an increase for EPA of nearly $850 million -- about 12 percent -- over the 1997 appropriated levels. When you add the additional resources that our agency will be redirecting from other areas, this budget contains a total of more than $900 million in new, high priority investments for protecting public health and the environment.

The lion’s share of that increase -- $700 million -- will fund the President’s “call to action” to clean up the worst environmental problems that millions of Americans face in their own communities.

What does that mean?

It means that millions of Americans who live near the nation’s worst toxic waste sites will start off their 21st Century in healthier, toxic-free neighborhoods -- because we’re going to double the pace of Superfund cleanups and rid this country of  500 more of those sites before this century ends.

It means economic revitalization for communities throughout the country, where scores of abandoned commercial properties will be re-developed and returned to neighborhoods for their productive use.

Additionally, this budget will increase funding for further expansion of the public’s right-to-know about toxic pollution in their neighborhoods -- because there is no doubt that informed, involved local citizens will always make far better decisions than some distant bureaucracy.

And it means a tougher, more aggressive criminal enforcement effort against those who pollute our air, our water, and our land.

Through these critical initiatives, along with the funding to make them work, the President is delivering on the new, national commitment to environmental protection that he announced last August in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

But there’s more.  Another large chunk of the President’s budget increase for EPA -- $146 million -- will fund a variety of critical initiatives, all of them intended to address the next generation of environmental challenges.

These include funds specifically targeted to protect children from environmental health threats, to revitalize the environmental and economic health of cities, and to strengthen our partnerships with state, local and tribal governments to get the job done.

In keeping with the President’s overall promise to lay the groundwork for the next century, we are going to step up our efforts to harness the forces of science and technology toward the cause of improving our environment.  This budget includes funding to improve quality science and research.  It includes initiatives aimed at improving energy and transportation efficiency to reduce pollution and greenhouse gases.  And it strives to help the scientific community develop a whole new generation of tools to more accurately assess the health of the environment.

Tuesday night, in his state of the union address, the President announced that he will designate ten “American Heritage Rivers” as part of a new initiative to work with communities, to help them clean up our precious rivers and to revitalize the areas around them.

This builds on EPA’s four years of progress in working community by community to help solve environmental problems in ways that work best for local citizens.  It will tap into the successful Brownfields, right-to-know, watershed protection and urban revitalization initiatives already underway across the country.

Additionally, it is an opportunity for a variety of federal agencies to join with EPA in protecting the nation’s rivers, to enhance Americans’ enjoyment of them, and to protect the public health.
On another front, this budget contains a $36 million increase to enable EPA to do its part to implement two major new environmental laws called for by the President and passed by Congress last year -- laws designed to enhance the safety of the water we drink and the food we eat.

Under the Safe Water Drinking Act Amendements, EPA will undertake a variety of new efforts to improve the way we set and enforce drinking water standards, protect drinking water supplies, help communities upgrade their facilities, and provide timely and important information to consumers.

Under the new Food Quality Protection Act, EPA will be adding a new level of protection from pesticides in our food.  The budget includes money to set a single, health-based, child-driven standard for pesticides in all foods, along with the resources necessary to re-evaluate some 9,000 different pesticides to assure safety, and to provide better information to the public.

All of these initiatives will be enhanced by our efforts to reinvent the way EPA works.  In fact, this budget increases our resources for reinvention projects.  We will strive to carry out this action plan in common sense, cost effective ways.

Let me sum up by saying that since the start of this administration, we have tried to put children at the focal point of EPA’s mission.  We know that by protecting some of the most vulnerable among us, we will be protecting everyone.

This budget continues and expands that particular commitment.  Not only does it enable us to establish new pesticide and drinking water standards aimed at children, but with it we begin to review all new health standards with special emphasis on how children are affected. Our new right-to-know initiatives will be designed to give parents the information they need to protect their kids.  And it funds new research on how pollution affects children’s health.

Yes, this is a budget for America’s children -- and for a cleaner, safer and more healthy environment.

It is a budget that says to America: “We can put our fiscal house in order without sacrificing our basic values.  We can protect both the health of our economy and the health of our children.”  The President has shown us how.  And today he carries that commitment into the next century.