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Memo Shows EPA Budget Faces New Cuts

Published by MAC on 2006-09-13

Memo Shows EPA Budget Faces New Cuts


13th September 2006

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may be laying the ground work for new budget cuts next year, according to an internal agency memo released Wednesday by a government watchdog.

The June 8, 2006 memo from EPA Chief Financial Officer Lyons Gray to agency leadership calls for identifying "larger savings" as part of a series of cuts spread over the next 5 years. It was obtained and released by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a national association of employees in natural resources agencies.

The proposed cuts include the closing of 10 percent of EPA's network of laboratories and research centers where much of the agency's basic and applied science concerning pollution monitoring, toxicological effects and other public health issues is conducted. By 2011, the laboratory network, comprised of approximately 2000 scientists, would shrink by 20 percent under the plan.

In addition, the plan would afford EPA regions greater freedom to carry out personnel reductions targeted at higher-ranking scientists, analysts and managers. These cuts would be in addition to anticipated attrition which should be substantial, with 35 percent of EPA staff becoming eligible to retire during the next three years, according to PEER.

Furthermore, the plan calls for reducing the "regulatory burden" on, and reporting requirements for, state and tribal environmental agencies.

The memo calls identified reductions "disinvestments" and concedes that they will undoubtedly have "long-term consequences."

The memo indicates the agency presented its fiscal reduction package to the White House Office of Management and Budget this week.

PEER noted that Congress is still reviewing administration proposals to reduce EPA spending by a record $100 million in fiscal year 2007.

"EPA planning is now driven entirely by external fiscal targets without regard to the effects upon public or environmental health," said PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch.

"The Bush administration seeks to 'disinvest' in environmental science, pollution control and global sustainability."

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