State and local efforts most affected in proposed $1.6 billion in cuts to EPA


State and local environmental efforts would take a big hit under the last-minute budget agreement reached by Congress last week.

Terms of the deal, which ended talks of a government shutdown, include cuts of $1.6 billion from the EPA’s budget – over $1 billion of which would be taken from community efforts to comply with federal environmental rules.

The New York Times reports:

Three-quarters of the cuts, totaling $1.19 billion, would come from State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG), which mainly fund water infrastructure upgrades and state plans to comply with new federal rules. That includes a $997 million cut from a pair of revolving funds that finance local drinking water projects and efforts to clean up polluted bodies of water.

With total funding of $3.77 billion, the STAG programs make up less than half of EPA’s $8.7 billion budget under the pact. Though the president proposed a similar cut to the revolving funds in his fiscal 2012 budget request, his pact with Republicans would now pull funding for the water infrastructure projects a year early.

The budget deal also includes a $191 million cut to regional programs, such as Obama’s own Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Those programs would now get almost exactly as much as Obama requested this year for projects in the Great Lakes, as well as the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound.

In Iowa, funding funding for the Department of Natural Resources is already at a record low. It makes up just one percent of the 2012 projected budget.

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