WASHINGTON—(ENEWSPF)—March 4, 2014. Today the Obama Administration proposed a Fiscal Year 2015 (FY 2015) budget of $7.890 billion for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This request is $309.9 million below the EPA’s enacted level for Fiscal Year 2014.
“This budget is key to a new era of partnerships for the U.S. environmental protection enterprise, where EPA will work hand in hand—with our sister federal agencies, states, tribes, localities, agricultural and manufacturing sectors, small businesses, industry, and other stakeholders—to improve the health of families and protect the environment, one community at a time, all across the country,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Our request focuses our resources on the things that really matter to the people of this country. We will seek to make a visible difference—whether it is protecting our precious waters and leaving our children a legacy so they can safely drink water from their small community water systems and fish and swim in their local rivers; reducing air pollution along roadways and neighborhoods; or cleaning up communities to maximize environmental and economic benefits.”
The President’s FY 2015 request will allow the EPA to continue to transform the way it does business, ensuring the best use of human and financial resources, while continuing to achieve the agency’s mission effectively and efficiently. FY 2015 resources will focus on making progress in communities across the country on priority areas including climate change and air quality, toxics and chemical safety, and clean water.
Fiscal Year 2015 budget highlights include:
Making a Visible Difference in Communities Across the Country
The FY 2015 budget request includes resources to expand existing efforts to make a difference in people’s everyday lives and make a visible difference in their communities. $7.5 million and the 64 staff in FY 2015 will work to make that difference, including building on current work by providing green infrastructure technical assistance for up to 100 communities to help them employ cost-effective and sustainable approaches to water management. Research will help with the development and application of new and enhanced technologies for large-scale green infrastructure. Additionally, the agency will focus efforts to enhance our work in environmental justice communities.
In FY 2015, EPA will continue our work to prevent and reduce exposure to harmful contaminants, accelerate the pace of cleanups, and reduce environmental impacts associated with land use across the country. Additional staff in the Brownfields program will focus on maximizing clean-up and redevelopment.
Addressing Climate Change and Improving Air Quality
The President’s budget request for Climate Change and Air Quality of $1.03 billion, a $41 million increase compared to FY 2014 enacted levels, includes $199.5 million to address one of the greatest challenges of this generation and generations to come–climate change. In addition to the efforts within base resources that support the implementation of the President’s Climate Action Plan, the FY 2015 request provides an additional $10 million and 24 staff. The Climate Action Plan tasks the EPA with setting carbon dioxide (CO2) standards for power plants and applying its authorities and other tools to address hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and methane, all of which contribute to climate change. FY 2015 resources will support the development of achievable greenhouse gas (GHG) standards, regulations, or guidelines, as appropriate, for modified, reconstructed, and existing power plants. The President’s budget also provides additional support for the states to help them implement the Clean Air Act, as it relates with regard to cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Resources also will support developing and implementing the President’s interagency methane strategy to mitigate climate change impacts.
In FY 2015, Heavy Duty Vehicle GHG Phase 2 standards will require upgrades to the National Vehicle Fuel Emissions Laboratory (NVFEL) which is responsible for ensuring vehicles meet national MPG and emissions standards. The EPA also is implementing a range of activities in support of the President’s call to cut energy waste in homes, businesses, and factories, including Energy Star’s efforts to increase energy efficiency in multifamily housing.
$2.0 million will provide technical assistance and support tools for climate change adaptation planning. This includes technical assistance for water utilities at greatest risk from storm surges. Research and development efforts will focus on decision support tools for at-risk communities and tribes to help them build resiliency to the effects of climate change.
Taking Action on Toxics and Chemical Safety
Chemicals and toxic substances are ubiquitous in our everyday lives — they are used in the production of everything from our homes and cars to the cell phones we carry and the food we eat. EPA’s budget includes almost $673 million to support work to ensure the safety of chemicals we encounter in our daily lives. In FY 2015, $23 million and 24 EPA staff will support activities under the President’s Executive Order on Chemical Safety, as well as agency efforts on chemical prioritization, air toxics, radon, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in drinking water.
The Executive Order on Chemical Safety issued in August 2013 seeks to expand coordination, tools, and information for State Emergency Response Commissions and Local Emergency Planning Committees. Resources will be used to fund technical support, data system enhancements, and outreach in the State and Local Prevention and Preparedness program. Our focus will be to provide hands-on technical assistance in towns and cities most at risk due to local infrastructure and presence of high risk facilities. EPA will also work to increase mobile device accessibility for first responders.
$5.0 million in resources for air toxics work will enhance the analytical capabilities needed to develop effective health regulations, to continue the progress in developing the National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA), to update methods for estimating area and mobile source emissions, and to update air dispersion modeling based on recent advances in the science.
Protecting the Nation’s Waters
The nation’s water resources are the lifeblood of our communities. Our FY 2015 budget recognizes the long-term benefits of healthy waterways – they are vital to local economies, public health, property values, tourism, fishing, and hunting.
The agency is directing $8 million and 10 staff to advance clean water. As we look to protect the nation’s water, new approaches are needed to make progress. A centerpiece of this strategy is a water quality framework to improve return on investment, accountability and environmental results. These resources will help the agency continue providing technical expertise for states and tribes as they implement EPA’s guidance for hydraulic fracturing activities. Funding will be used to help states and tribes make sound permitting decisions and review complex data contained in applications for hydraulic fracturing using diesel fuels. Implementation support will ensure that authorized agencies are effectively managing and overseeing the rapidly growing energy sector while preventing endangerment of underground sources of drinking water.
Promoting Sustainable Community Water Resources
The FY 2015 budget seeks to ensure that federal dollars provided through the State Revolving Funds (SRF) act as a catalyst for efficient system-wide planning, improvements in technical, financial, and managerial capacity, and the design, construction, and on-going management of sustainable water infrastructure. The FY 2015 budget requests $1.775 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water SRFs, a decrease of $581 million from FY 2014. Including this request, Federal capitalization of the SRFs totals over $22 billion since FY 2009. EPA is working to expand and institutionalize the use of up-front planning that considers a full range of infrastructure alternatives, including green infrastructure.
Maintaining and Strengthening EPA as a High Performing Environmental Organization
An integral component of the agency’s FY 2015 strategy is the work to support a high-performing workforce in order to better serve the American people. EPA is implementing or accelerating a number of key efforts, including realigning our workspace, launching new collaboration tools, and Leaning our business processes to bring about change and efficiency at the EPA. The EPA is realigning $21 million and 57 staff to ensure the success of these efforts.
E-Enterprise is a major joint initiative between EPA and states to modernize our business practices and to increase accessibility, efficiency, and responsiveness. The agency is expanding efforts in the second year of the multi-year E-Enterprise business model including focusing people and resources to accelerate development of the E-Manifest system and associated rule-making work. Benefits of implementing the E-Manifest system include annual savings estimated at $75 million for over 160,000 waste handlers.
In addition, EPA is making changes to long-standing business practices such as contracts, grants management, and the regulation development process. One area of emphasis is in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and records management, where existing processes are not effective or efficient, and new ones are complex to implement and require resources and training.
Protecting Our Land
In FY 2014, the agency is requesting over $1.33 billion to continue to apply the most effective approaches to preserve and restore land by developing and implementing prevention programs, improving response capabilities, and maximizing the effectiveness of response and cleanup actions under RCRA, Superfund, Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) and other authorities. This strategy will help ensure that communities are protected and that land is returned to beneficial use. $1.16 billion is requested for Superfund which includes a $43.4 million increase for remedial work and an increase of $9.2 million for Emergency Response and Removal.
Supporting State and Tribal Partners
The FY 2015 budget includes a total of $1,130 million in categorical grants, an increase of $76 million over FY 2014 levels. The State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG) account continues to be the largest percentage of the EPA’s budget request, at nearly 40% in FY 2014, and prioritizes funding for state categorical grants to assist states and tribes, the primary implementers of environmental programs. In FY 2015, $96.4 million is requested for Tribal General Assistance Program grants, representing a nearly $31 million increase over FY 2014.
Continuing EPA’s Commitment to Innovative Research Solutions:
Strong science continues to be the foundation of EPA’s work; the President has requested $537.3 million for science and research in FY 2015. EPA is focusing research on the most critical issues facing the agency, including climate change. Realignments in FY 2015 include efforts to advance chemical prioritization and predictive toxicology, helping communities make sustainable decisions regarding environmental protection and resiliency, informing regional and community-level strategies for the use of green infrastructure and other innovative alternative practices.
The EPA is committed to environmental education as a core part of our efforts to safeguard public health and the environment in FY 2015. The primary goals of the EPA’s educational activities are to share information about how to protect the environment, and particularly how the EPA protects the water we drink and the air we breathe. Environmental education activities also aim to improve participation in advanced programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields and thereby foster the next generation of scientists and engineers to tackle current and future environmental challenges.
Reducing EPA’s Energy Costs:
The EPA continues to focus on reducing its physical footprint and achieving greater energy efficiency. Since 2006, the EPA has released approximately 428 thousand square feet of space at headquarters and facilities nationwide, resulting in a cumulative annual rent avoidance of over $14.6 million. These savings can partially offset the EPA’s rent and security costs. The FY 2015 request includes $12 million to the support design and engineering of a federally-owned EPA multi-use facility in Las Vegas, NV. The new facility will consolidate offices currently in leased locations, create a smaller energy-efficient office and lab footprint, and lower operating costs.
Reducing and Eliminating Programs
The EPA continues to examine its programs to find those that have served their purpose and accomplished their mission or are duplicative. The FY 2015 President’s Budget eliminates a number of programs totaling nearly $56 million including Beaches Protection categorical grants; State Indoor Radon Grants; and Diesel Emissions Reductions Assistance grants. Details are found in the appendix to the EPA FY 2015 Congressional Justification ( link for more information:
FY 2015 Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative
Recognizing the importance of the two-year budget agreement Congress reached in December, which the President’s Budget adheres to, levels are not sufficient to expand opportunity to all Americans or to drive the growth our economy needs. For that reason, across the federal government, the Budget also includes a separate, fully paid for $56 billion Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative. The Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative, which will be split evenly between defense and non-defense funding, shows how additional discretionary investments in FY 2015 can spur economic progress, promote opportunity, and strengthen national security.
The Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative includes more than $1 billion for a Climate Resilience Fund, through which the Budget will invest in research and unlock data to better understand the projected impacts of a changing climate, help communities plan and prepare for impacts, and fund breakthrough technologies and resilient infrastructure. Funding at EPA will support a nation that is better prepared for the impacts of climate change, including $10 million for protecting and enhancing coastal wetlands, and $4 million to support urban forest enhancement and protection.