Bush 2007 Budget Underwrites Nuclear, Cuts Environmental Programs
WASHINGTON, DC, February 6, 2006 (ENS) - President George W. Bush's $2.77 trillion budget for Fiscal Year 2007 emphasizes homeland security and nuclear energy development, while drawing early criticism for cutting programs for environmental protection, energy efficiency and low income energy assistance, sustainable energy development, and agriculture.
The FY 2007 budget for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reflects the need for spending restraint while accelerating environmental protection, maintaining economic competitiveness and strengthening homeland defenses, said EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson and agency officials at a Washington news briefing today.
"EPA shares in the responsibility of being good stewards of our nation's environment, and good stewards of our nation's tax dollars," said Johnson. "This budget fulfills every presidential environmental commitment and maintains the goals laid out in EPA's Strategic Plan, while spending less."
For more information on the president's FY 2007 budget request for EPA visit: http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/budget/index.htm
Conservation groups were disappointed by the administration's budget proposal. The FY 2007 budget released by President Bush "essentially abandons" a commitment to protecting public lands that has lasted for decades, the Wilderness Society said today.
Despite the President's acknowledgement of America's "addiction to oil," in his State of the Union address, the budget assumes the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge will be leased to oil companies for $7 billion, the conservation group said.
The budget also proposes an unprecedented $46 million boost in funding for the Bureau of Land Management oil and gas program – from $88.9 million appropriated in FY 2006, to $135 million requested for FY 2007 - $12.4 million of the increase is for Alaska North Slope activities, both in the Arctic Refuge and elsewhere. The BLM estimates that it will process nearly 12,000 drilling permit applications in 2007, up from 3,892 processed five years ago.
"In his State of the Union Address, the President talked about breaking America's addiction to oil," said Linda Lance, vice president for public policy at The Wilderness Society. "Sadly, the budget released today is rife with the same old tired ‘drill it all' approach that got us into this mess."
Republicans for Environmental Protection said President Bush's inclusion of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling revenues in his proposed 2007 budget "grossly contradicts the call in his State of the Union speech to reduce America's addiction to oil."
"The administration's speedy retreat from the president's oil addiction statement and the assumption of Arctic Refuge oil drilling in the president's budget make it clear that when it comes to oil, this White House is more about getting a fix than fixing our energy problems," said REP Government Affairs Director David Jenkins. "The rhetorical bait-and-switch illustrated just how much control that big oil interests have over the president's agenda."
"Let's hope that in a challenging election year, Congress will reject the president's special-interest energy agenda and actually pursue the public's best interest," Jenkins said. "To retain control of Congress, our party must move beyond a shortsighted energy agenda designed to prop up oil industry profits. It must pursue more forward-thinking energy solutions that protect the American people."
Despite the President's campaign promise to "fully fund" the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the budget released today extends the pattern of deep cuts to the program seen in previous Bush administration budgets. In FY 2006, the president requested only $131 million. For FY 2007, the Administration reduced that by more than 35 percent, to approximately $84 million. LWCF is authorized by Congress to receive up to $900 million annually.
"If enacted, President Bush's budget request for the essential Land and Water Conservation Fund would be the lowest level of funding since 1974," said Sarah Neimeyer, budget and appropriations director with The Wilderness Society. "This request is a travesty for a program that has been our nation's premiere tool to create and preserve parks, forests, wildlife refuges and open space since 1964."
Department of Energy Requests $23.6 Billion for FY 2007
U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman today announced President Bush's FY 2007 Budget for the Department of Energy (DOE) requests $23.6 billion, a $124 million increase over the FY 2006 request.
"This budget signifies an investment in our future," Bodman said. "Continued support for scientific discovery and the development of alternative energy sources is vital to America's energy and economic security. From new global threats of the 21st century, to recognizing the importance of providing our next generation of scientists, teachers and engineers with a strong educational foundation, DOE's Fiscal Year 2007 budget represents a comprehensive approach to addressing both the near- and long-term challenges America faces."
As a part of the American Competitiveness Initiative, DOE's Office of Science FY 2007 budget requests $4.1 billion, an additional half-billion more than FY 2006, to support funding for basic scientific research. This ambitious strategy represents President Bush's commitment to double federal spending on science over the next ten years. Funding will pursue new technologies in the cutting-edge scientific fields of the 21st century – areas such as nanotechnology, material science, biotechnology, and high-speed computing.
The Advanced Energy Initiative aims to reduce America's dependence on imported energy sources. The FY 2007 DOE budget requests $2.1 billion to meet these goals, an increase of $381 million over FY 2006. Funding will help develop clean, affordable sources of energy that will help reduce the use of fossil fuels and lead to changes in the way we power our homes, businesses and cars.
The Office of Science ($539 million) budget incorporates funding for nuclear fusion, including the ITER project, an experimental reactor that puts the U.S. on the pathway to furthering the potential of nuclear fusion as source of environmentally safe energy solar, biomass and hydrogen research programs.
The Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology ($392 million) includes $250 million for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) and also supports Generation IV, Nuclear Power 2010, and the Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative.
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy budget requests $1.2 billion, $2.6 million (0.2%) more than the FY 2006 appropriations. Much of this funding is an integral part of the Advanced Energy Initiative and expands programs that focus on developing new energy choices, including: Hydrogen Fuel Technology ($114 million) Fuel Cell Technology ($82 million) Biomass ($150 million), including research into cellulosic ethanol, made from switch grass, wood chips and stalks the Solar America Initiative ($148 million) vehicle technology ($166 million) and wind projects ($44 million).
The Office of Fossil Energy ($444 million) supports the Coal Research Initiative and other power generation/stationary fuel cell research programs.
The FY 2007 Office of Science budget requests $4.1 billion, a $505 million (14%) increase over the FY 2006 appropriation. This funding is DOE's component of the American Competitiveness Initiative, which will double investment in basic science research over the next ten years. DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the nation and helps ensure U.S. world leadership across a broad range of scientific disciplines.
The FY 2007 National Nuclear Security Administration budget requests $9.3 billion, a $211.3 million increase over the FY 2006 appropriation. The majority of the increase, $111.4 million, will go towards Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation programs to accelerate work securing nuclear material in the former Soviet Union and to advance aggressive global nuclear nonproliferation goals. This request provides $675 million toward the total U.S. commitment to the Global Partnership to address nonproliferation, disarmament, counter-terrorism, and nuclear safety issues.
The FY 2007 budget includes $6.4 billion for nuclear weapons activities, a $38 million increase over FY 2006 appropriation, will fund Weapons Activities to continue the transformation of the United States's nuclear deterrent and support infrastructure enabling the U.S. to be more responsive to 21st century global threats.
The Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management requests $544.5 million for FY 2007 for further development of the Yucca Mountain Project, a $99 million increase from the final FY 2006 appropriation, excluding funds for the Integrated Spent Fuel Recycling Facilities. These funds will support ongoing efforts to develop a license application to submit to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The FY 2007 budget request includes $67.8 million for the development of transportation infrastructure such as rail lines, casks and rail cars, and establishing a long-term procurement plan for transportation activities.
The remainder of the request is devoted to the development of nuclear safety programs and the management and scientific work for the Yucca Mountain Project by Sandia National Laboratories.
The Office of Environment, Safety and Health (EH) requests $109.9 million for FY 2007, approximately 6% above the FY 2006 appropriation, to support its mission of ensuring the safety and health of the DOE workforce and members of the public and the protection of the environment in all DOE activities.
The Energy Supply and Conservation budget request includes a $1.4 million increase for DOE-wide EH programs, which will be "allocated to support the President's Management Agenda initiatives, fulfill legislative mandates and conduct National Environmental Policy Act technical reviews more efficiently," the DOE said. EH's Other Defense Activities budget requests increases for activities such as the Corporate Safety Programs (+$4.6 million) and the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (+$4.5 million), which is funded entirely with carryover funds from FY 2005.
The Office of Fossil Energy (FE) FY 2007 budget requests $648.9 million, a $192.8 million (23%) reduction from FY 2006 appropriation. FE's Clean Coal and other power generation/stationary fuel cells programs are a part of the Advanced Energy Initiative, which aims to reduce America's dependence on imported oil, especially through the use of new technology. $61 million in savings is reflective of terminating support for energy companies to explore for oil and gas because such R&D activities are more appropriate for the private sector to perform.
The FY 2007 Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE) budget requests $124.9 million, an overall decrease of $37.0 million (23%) below FY 2006 appropriation, reflecting the phasing out of completed activities within the Distributed Energy program and building of efficiencies resulting from the merge of the predecessor organizations. Funding will support R&D in areas such as high-temperature superconductivity, and simulation work needed to enhance the reliability and effectiveness of America's power supply. This office also operates DOE's energy emergency response capability and led DOE's support effort during and after the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes.
The Office of Legacy Management FY 2007 budget requests $201.0 million, a $123.2 million (158%) increase over the FY 2006 appropriation. This office oversees long-term stewardship activities at federal nuclear sites where active remediation has been completed. This large increase reflects the transfer of clean-up sites completed by the Office of Environmental Management.
The FY 2007 Environmental Management budget requests $5.8 billion, $762 million (12%) below the FY 2006 appropriation, primarily due to the completion of Rocky Flats in Colorado, and the anticipated completion of Fernald, and a group of sites known as the Nevada offsites. Rocky Flats closed 56 years ahead of schedule at a cost of approximately $7 billion, saving American taxpayers roughly $29 billion.
State energy officials will release an analysis of the President's Budget for energy efficiency and low income assistance programs on February 13. They will be calling on the Congress to reject the President's budget for these programs and will be recommending an alternative budget plan.
Of special concern to the states is that the President's budget does support even the modest programs and authorization levels that were approved in the recently passed Energy Policy Act.
Represented at the press conference will be Eric Thumma, director, Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority, representing state energy policy and program directors Jo-Anne Choate, director of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program for the State of Maine for the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association, representing state LIHEAP directors and Commissioner Ron Jones, chairman of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners representing state utility commissioners.
A coalition of 60 business, environmental, and faith-based organizations is urging Congress to reject the White House Fiscal Year 2007 budget request for the U.S. Department of Energy's renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. Instead, they called for full funding of the crosssection of sustainable energy programs up to the levels authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct).
The groups view "the proposed cut-backs in the federal investment in sustainable energy research, development, deployment, and grants [to be] illogical, irresponsible, and a totally unacceptable strategic mistake."
Citing the worsening problems of climate change, rising energy prices, and ever-greater energy imports, the groups wrote, "Options such as expanded oil and gas drilling, 'clean' coal, and nuclear power are, at best, long-term strategies that will offer no immediate or even near-term relief from the energy problems now confronting the U.S. Moreover, many of these technologies entail unacceptably high economic, social, and environmental costs that will limit, if not completely preclude, their use over the long term."
"The only energy resources that can provide any significant relief, both now and in the years ahead, are the mix of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies deployed to the maximum extent possible. Therefore, the deep cuts being proposed by the White House in the U.S. Department of Energy and other federal agency budgets for these programs should be rejected out-of-hand," the groups wrote.
"Instead, Congress should not only restore program budgets for the core sustainable energy programs but also increase funding to the levels authorized by the recently enacted Energy Policy Act of 2005."
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Budget Highest Ever for Civil Works
The Fiscal Year 2007 (FY07) budget transmitted to Congress today includes $4.733 billion in new federal funding for the Civil Works program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
John Paul Woodley, Jr., Assistant Secretary of the Army of Civil Works, said, "The Army Civil Works budget for Fiscal Year 2007 is the highest budget ever proposed for the Civil Works program. It provides critical funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue to contribute to the nation's economic and environmental well-being."
"The FY07 budget emphasizes three critical Corps activities. First, it funds the construction and completion of water resources projects that will provide a high return on the nation's investment in the Corps' primary mission areas of commercial navigation, flood and storm damage reduction, and aquatic ecosystem restoration," Woodley said.
"Second, it increases funding for the Corps' regulatory program to help protect and preserve the nation's precious waters and wetlands," he said.
"Third, it reflects the administration's proactive support for the Corps' critical emergency preparedness and response mission by funding the mission in the regular budget process, and not through emergency transfers or supplemental funding," Woodley said.
The six construction projects considered to be national priorities are:
The ninth national priority effort, the West Bank and Vicinity, Louisiana, project, has received the funds needed for completion.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Budget $3 Billion Smaller Than Last Year
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today said, "The President's agriculture budget provides important resources for farmers and ranchers, while doing our part to avoid passing on the deficit to our children and grandchildren."
Total USDA expenditures are estimated at about $93 billion in 2007, nearly $3 billion below the 2006 level. Roughly 77 percent of expenditures, or $71.3 billion in 2007, will be for mandatory programs that provide services required by law, which include many of the nutrition assistance, commodity, export promotion and conservation programs.
USDA's discretionary programs account for the remaining 23 percent of expenditures or $21.5 billion in 2007, a decrease of $1.2 billion from 2006.
Discretionary programs include the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program rural development loans and grants research and education soil and water conservation technical assistance management of National Forests and domestic marketing assistance.
The decrease in expenditures are derived from the proposed budget reductions, which include "an assumption that there will not be a need for emergency disaster assistance funding and other emergency supplemental funds that were needed in 2006," Johanns said.
The 2007 budget includes $82 million for USDA to continue to work closely with states in domestic surveillance efforts and to improve preparedness and response capabilities to help stem the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) overseas. Excluding emergency funding in 2006, this is a $66 million increase in avian influenza efforts from 2006.
International agency Oxfam America welcomed today's announcement that the President's budget calls for reform of agricultural subsidies and food aid in the Fiscal Year 2007 Budget request, but expressed disappointment over cuts in core foreign aid funding.
Although the subsidy program was originally created during the Great Depression as a safety net for farmers, the system has evolved into a program that benefits those already with an advantage, encourages overproduction and leads to export dumping and depressed prices.
"Today's proposal signals the Administration's commitment to reforming trade distorting subsidies," Offenheiser said. "The ball is squarely in Congress' court to deliver a fair and sustainable farm program, not just for the U.S. but for the world."
Oxfam also welcomed the President's proposal to make food aid funds available as cash contributions to make emergency assistance faster, cheaper and more appropriate. Shipping U.S. commodities can cost a lot more and can take months to reach those in need. In a world where more than 850 million people are chronically hungry, food aid is vitally important to humanitarian activities. However, restricting food aid to in-kind donations limits the effectiveness of the U.S. food aid program.
"Humanitarian responders need to have flexibility to respond to needs on the ground by the fastest and most cost-efficient means possible, be it in-kind or locally purchased food aid," said Offenheiser. "Having cash contributions available for local or regional purchases could increase the speed and volume of food available to address a crisis and would enable us to feed many more people."
Gulf Coast Hurricane Rebuilding
The President requested an additional $18 billion for rebuilding the Gulf Coast through a supplemental to the FY2007 budget. With nearly 200,000 homes damaged in Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the scale of the devastation dwarfs the resources homeowners and insurance companies have to make it right. To date, the generosity of federal support has not been equal to the severity of the crisis.
"An additional $18 billion for rebuilding the Gulf Coast is welcome news as continued financial support from the federal government is critical if the region is to have hope of recovery," said Offenheiser. "However, the details of the plan for spending these funds will reveal if the administration is committed to addressing the vast and urgent housing needs on the hurricane-devastated region."
Although the President's budget recommends increases in Refugee and Migration Assistance and the Millennium Challenge Account, it also recommends cuts in core foreign assistance, such as Child Survival, Development Assistance and funding to international organizations.
"Over his presidency, President Bush has made great strides to increase foreign aid, so today's announcement of cuts to core development funding is a big disappointment," said Offenheiser. "Although the US is the largest donor in the world, and US assistance had been on the increase, the US still lags behind other developed countries in that our contributions are small compared to the size of our federal budget and economy."
Citing chronic underfunding of vital public health and environmental safeguards, 15 environmental groups Thursday called on President Bush and the Congress to invest funds to ensure Americans have clean air and water, and to preserve natural landscapes and wildlife.
The groups released a budget blueprint outlining their priorities and recommendations for the federal government's FY07 budget. The blueprint, titled "A Green Budget for a Healthy America," addresses repeated funding cuts of almost $1.3 billion, adjusted for inflation, that have plagued many important initiatives in recent years.
To view the document, go to www.saveourenvironment.org.
"The core safeguards protecting our health and our communities have been cut to the bone in recent years. And we can't afford to keep slashing away," said Heather Taylor, deputy legislative director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "We need new investments in clean, renewable energy technologies that reduce our dependence on foreign oil and cut global warming emissions."
"A budget isn't just dry numbers, it's a clear picture of what is important to us as a nation. Healthy and safe communities require a healthy environment, and that has got to be at the top of our national priorities," said Peter Raabe, deputy director of government affairs for American Rivers.
"Our nation's wildlife and wild places areas are irreplaceable parts of our natural heritage," said Mary Beth Beetham legislative affairs director for Defenders of Wildlife. "Each year, Americans show how much they value that heritage by spending billions of their own hard-earned dollars on wildlife-related recreation. It's time for Congress and the White House to do their part and stop shortchanging important wildlife conservation programs that benefit us all."
See the entire 2007 FY budget at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2007/