Conservation groups accused the Bush administration of singling out environmental spending for larger cuts than other domestic programs in the year 2005 budget, putting at risk environmental and public health protections under the guise of fiscal constraints.

“The Bush administration’s budget reveals a ballooning environmental deficit that is growing even greater than the fiscal deficit,” said Wesley Warren, a former official in the White House Office of Management and Budget, now with Natural Resources Defense Council, on Feb. 4.

Looking at the budget’s five-year spending projections, Warren said the deficit shows the “degree to which the Bush administration has singled out environmental protection for a disproportionate reduction – not just next year, but for the next five years.”

From forest protection to Everglades restoration to oceans, the budget President Bush has proposed to Congress puts protection of the nation’s air, land and water at risk, say environmental leaders who analyzed the budget this week.

Total spending on environmental programs is slated for a $1.9 billion reduction, nearly 6 percent below FY 2004, falling from $32.2 billion to $30.3 billion. But the cuts do not stop there; the environment takes another whack in the President’s long-term budget plan, dropping to only $29.6 billion in FY 2006, with significant additional cuts falling on land conservation efforts.

Funding for EPA would shrink by more than $600 million, with the biggest impacts on water quality and science and technology programs. Land conservation would fall far short of current needs, with the greatest deficiencies occurring in land acquisition, wildlife protection and parks funding.

The largest cut is in water-quality infrastructure funding for reducing sources of pollution. This category includes a broad range of activities, including sewage plants, water purification facilities and targeted pollution-prevention investments. The total investments drop from $2.6 billion to $1.8 billion, an $822 million cut that represents more than 30 percent of the total for water infrastructure investments. This is despite $450 billion in needs identified by EPA in the Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Gap Analysis of 2002.

Reprinted with permission.
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