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Administrator Johnson, EPA FY 2008 Budget Press Conference, Washington, D.C.

Thank you for joining us.

As you know, earlier today, President Bush submitted to Congress his proposed budget for fiscal year 2008.

During last month’s State of the Union Address, the President stated he was eager to work with Congress to “restrain the spending appetite of the federal government.” EPA is proud to be a partner in this effort. The President has included $7.2 billion to support the work of EPA and our partners nationwide in his budget request.

This budget will fund EPA’s role as America enters into the next phase of environmental progress.

These are exciting times for our nation’s environment. Since our founding over 36 years ago, EPA has laid a strong foundation of environmental progress. America’s air, water and land are cleaner today than they were just a generation ago; and under the Bush Administration this progress continues.

America has come a long way in understanding that economic growth and environmental health can, in fact, go hand in hand. Since 1970, our gross domestic product has nearly tripled. And over this time, our energy use is up by nearly half, our population has grown by 40 percent, and vehicle traffic has almost tripled. And yet, even with this added strain on our resources, the emissions of the six criteria air pollutants have decreased more than 50 percent.

The Bush Administration is building on this environmental and economic success story. Since 2001, even while our country’s gross domestic product has increased by 11 percent, airborne pollutants have dropped by nine percent – including a 50 percent decrease in NOx – the emissions that contribute to ground-level ozone and soot. By keeping pace in our steady march, America is breathing easier because of President Bush's commitment to improving our air quality.

And what we’ve done for our air, we’re also doing for our water and land. Since 1970, EPA has provided over $94 billion in clean water and drinking water infrastructure grants. When you add the state and local matching funds, this means that we’ve helped build over $100 billion worth of water projects. And by encouraging cleanup and redevelopment of America’s abandoned and contaminated waste sites through our Brownfields program, we’ve leveraged more than $8.8 billion in private investment … helped create more than 41,000 jobs since 1995… and resulted in the assessment of more than 9,100 properties.

Our nation’s environmental results are significant. And it’s important to understand how they’re being delivered.

Today, instead of having only 17,000 EPA employees working to protect the environment, we now have over 300 million Americans as environmental partners. Americans from all sectors of society – businesses, communities and individuals – have begun to embrace the fact that environmental responsibility is everyone’s responsibility … not just the responsibility of EPA.

Over our 36 years, EPA has laid a strong foundation to shift America into a “green” culture. And the President’s FY 2008 budget will fund our new role in this next exciting phase of environmental progress.

We have learned that when acting alone, EPA’s environmental progress can be limited. That is why we are working in collaboration with our state and local partners to address some our nation’s biggest environmental challenges.

The President’s budget supports collaborative action to protect America’s great water bodies – the Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, the Puget Sound, and the Great Lakes. Here in the East, in order to strengthen the efforts of the Chesapeake Bay partners, the President requested an additional $2 million, for a total of $28.8 million, to increase the pace of Bay restoration. In the South, the President requested $4.5 million so EPA can assist the Gulf of Mexico states and our stakeholders in developing an ecosystem-based framework for restoring and protecting the Gulf. In the beautiful North West, the Agency will invest $1 million in a new project to address high-priority environmental challenges in the Puget Sound. Finally, in the North, we will invest $56.8 million in Great Lakes projects to help clean-up eight of the most contaminated areas by 2010, reduce PCB concentration in fish, and improve beach monitoring.

In this next phase of environmental protection, EPA is helping communities turn their problem properties back into local assets. The 2008 President's Budget requests over $1.2 billion to support the Superfund program’s cleanup of the Nation’s most contaminated hazardous waste sites. In addition, his $162.2 million request for the Brownfields program includes an increase of $3.7 million to support additional assessments, revolving loan fund and cleanup grants. When leveraged with state and local resources, this Brownfield funding will help assess more than 1,000 properties, clean up more than 60 sites, and address petroleum contamination in more than 40 communities.

As I’ve mentioned, over the past 36 years, EPA has helped build our nation’s environmental infrastructure – in part, by providing over $94 billion in clean water and drinking water infrastructure grants. Leveraged by matching funds from state and local governments, this investment has been vital for assuring clean water by funding construction of drinking water and wastewater treatment systems. We are continuing this in FY 2008 by providing another $687.6 million for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and over $842.2 million for Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to states and localities across the country. We are also expanding another mechanism to fund water projects: Private Activity Bonds, which will provide another valuable method for states and communities to finance their water infrastructure projects.

While we continue to work with our state and local partners, maybe the greatest potential for delivering results in this next phase of environmental protection lies with business, as well as with each and every one of us.

The environmental challenges of the 21st Century can’t be addressed by government alone. Fortunately, our nation is shifting to a “greener” culture. Today, Americans are realizing that through their everyday choices, they can make a difference for their environment. The President’s budget request funds EPA’s role in equipping this growing army of environmental stewards with the tools they need to hand down to the next generation a healthier, safer, more prosperous world.

Across the country, we are seeing companies make smart choices for the environment that also boost their bottom lines. By developing new products and technologies, American companies are showing their ingenuity in response to a growing demand for environmentally-friendly and energy efficient products. The President’s budget request advances the growth of innovative technologies that are good for our environment, advance our energy security, and help address the issue of global climate change.

President Bush has requested $117.9 million for EPA’s climate change programs, including $44 million to promote the successful Energy Star program. In addition, he has included $5 million for the Asia Pacific Partnership to support international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and $4.4 million for the Methane to Markets Partnership to promote methane recovery and use at landfills, coal mines and natural gas facilities.

After highlighting some of our cooperative initiatives, we must also recognize reality. This budget follows Teddy Roosevelt’s maxim of “walk softly, but carry a big stick”. The proposed FY 2008 enforcement budget – $549.5 million – is the highest enforcement budget ever, a $9.1 million increase over the FY 2007 request level.

As EPA continues to help shape a “green” culture in America, we understand our important responsibility of advancing the science that will help further improve our environment. The President has requested an additional $9.4 million, for a total of $134 million, to fund human health risks, clean air research and the study of nanotechnology.

Before I open this up to few questions, I need to discuss our role as EPA moves from not just being guardians of the environment, but also guardians of our homeland. The President has requested $152 million for EPA’s homeland security efforts, enabling us to continue our water security and decontamination efforts.

Over our 36 years, EPA has laid a strong foundation to shift America into a “green” culture. With this budget, we are focused on utilizing more Americans to deliver more results for the environment. Together, with our 300 million citizen partners, we are not only building on our nation’s environmental accomplishments, we are creating a lasting legacy for future generations of Americans.

Thank you.