EPA would see highest funding ever under Biden’s budget plan (2)

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President Joe Biden wants to increase the EPA’s budget by 28.8% – its highest level ever – including major increases for environmental justice as well as staff increases and longstanding programs on the air , water and chemicals.

At $11.9 billion, the White House’s fiscal year 2023 budget request for the Environmental Protection Agency matches Biden’s many environmental commitments and would bring to life an agency the Trump administration has been seeking. To reduce.

Biden’s budget plan includes EPA funding to hire 1,900 new employees. The request would boost the agency’s ranks by 13.3% from fiscal 2021 levels, taking it to 16,200 employees, its highest level in 11 years.

The EPA’s adopted budget for fiscal year 2021 was $9.2 billion. The increase requested in the proposal is compared to the fiscal year 2021 spending level, under which agencies operated with some adjustments until the passing of the fiscal year 2022 spending law this month.

The endowment funds would also be used to significantly expand the EPA’s paid internship program to “develop a pipeline of qualified personnel,” according to a White House budget overview. Agency officials have acknowledged that the EPA faces a wave of retirements in the coming years and needs to do a better job of recruiting a new generation of scientists, lawyers, regulators and administrators. inspectors.

Congressional owners routinely ignore presidential budget requests, which means Biden’s plan is mostly a statement of the administration’s values, a starting point for negotiations and a signal about the fights ahead.

Agency chief Michael Regan said in a statement that the budget request “reflects this administration’s unwavering commitment to protecting people from pollution, especially those who live in overburdened and underserved communities in across America”.

Justice40, Cleanup Fund

Superfund cleanups of trash sites, which have already received big funding increases since Biden took office, would receive healthy funding under the proposal. The budget plan calls for nearly $1.2 billion for Superfund activities, including remediation and cleanup of waste sites.

Funding for the Superfund cleanups was boosted by the bipartisan Infrastructure Act of 2021, which added $3.5 billion to the program and reinstated a polluter tax for chemicals abandoned since the mid-1990s. The agency accelerated cleanups at dozens of sites with the arrival of the first billion dollars in program funding, but more than 1,300 sites are on the EPA’s National Priorities List.

Federal efforts to tackle disadvantaged communities that have long suffered from pollution and are largely ignored by the clean energy revolution would result in a historic investment of $1.45 billion in fiscal year 2023 under the plan. The spending would help advance Biden’s Justice40 effort, which promises that 40% of clean energy, clean water and other investment benefits will go to disadvantaged communities.

The request includes $100 million for the EPA to support new community-based air quality monitoring and additional environmental protection funds for frontline communities, as well as stronger compliance civil rights and support for community contribution for environmental permits.

Funding for the implementation of the Clean Air Act would be increased, receiving $213 million under the Civil Enforcement in Polluted Communities proposal.

The EPA’s Wildfire Prevention and Preparedness Actions would receive $13 million, ahead of the 2022 wildfire season which is expected to begin in late summer. States and tribes would receive $1.3 billion in pollution prevention and control grants, which includes monitoring particulate emissions.

The budget also calls for an additional $35 million to bolster the phase-down of ozone-depleting hydrofluorocarbons, a component of Biden’s first major climate rule finalized in 2021. The funding would support the phase-down of the chemical’s use. , largely for industrial refrigeration and cooling, and to help crack down on illegal trade.

Chemical efforts

EPA’s efforts to investigate, control, and remediate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, would benefit from a 45% increase, from $57 million at the level adopted in 2021 to $126 million under the framework. of the requested budget.

PFAS, a group of thousands of substances, are often dubbed “eternal chemicals” because an unknown number of them persist for decades in the environment and years in people’s bodies. Chemicals of concern are also associated with increased cholesterol, thyroid dysfunction, weakened immune systems, and other problems.

The budget requested by Biden would be increase the EPA’s ability to monitor commercial chemicals by seeking $124.2 million for the Toxic Substances Control Act program. This would represent an increase of $64 million from funds estimated at $60.3 million if the agency had been funded for all of fiscal year 2022 under a continuing resolution.

The agency has also requested 149 additional full-time employees for this program. Michal Ilana Freedhoff, deputy administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention, has often discussed the agency’s need for more money and staff to comply with the many additional mandates in the 2016 TSCA amendments.

The EPA also released its final version on Monday. strategic plan for fiscal years 2022 to 2026 to accompany the budget request. The plan includes a strategic goal focused exclusively on addressing climate change in addition to a goal to advance environmental justice and civil rights.

“I am confident that our plan responds to the moment,” Regan said in a statement.

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