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Testimony of Carol M. Browner


April 13-14, 1999

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I am very pleased to be here today to present the President's Fiscal Year 2000 Budget Request for the Environmental Protection Agency. The President's $7.2 billion request for the EPA continues this Administration's efforts to protect public health and the environment and provide states and communities with new, innovative funding tools to help build strong, healthy communities for the 21st century.

Chairman Walsh, I'd like to congratulate you on your Chairmanship of this important Subcommittee. You have shown leadership on issues important to your district, and to the nation as a whole. I know you will be able to carry that work forward in this new capacity. I would also like to congratulate Ranking Member Mollohan on his new position on the Subcommittee. I look forward to working with both of you in your new leadership roles. I have enjoyed working with this Subcommittee during my six years with the Administration, and I look forward to continuing that productive relationship as we work together to protect public health and the environment.

At the outset, Mr. Chairman, I would like to mention something we at EPA are very proud of. Sallyanne Harper, the Agency's Chief Financial Officer, has been named the recipient of the Joint Financial Management Improvement Program's (JFMIP) 1998 Donald L. Scantlebury Memorial Award. She receives this in recognition of sustained leadership and a record of accomplishments in financial management at EPA. This is an extremely prestigious government-wide award given by the JFMIP, to recognize senior financial management executives who, through outstanding and continuous leadership in financial management, have been principally responsible for significant economies, efficiencies, and improvements in federal, state, or local government. Sallyanne has done a great job for us at EPA. I just wanted to share with you our pride in Sallyanne and ask you to join me in congratulating her.

Mr. Chairman, with the help of this Subcommittee, which has funded essential environmental programs, we have made significant progress in providing a safe, healthy environment for the American people. During this Administration, we have also worked with Congress to pass important environmental laws and to implement earlier laws to carry out our common goal of stronger environmental protections. To cite just a few recent examples:

. This year, as a result of the Safe Drinking Water Amendments of 1996, we estimate that 88 percent of the American population will receive drinking water from community water systems that meet all health-based standards in effect since 1994. The Agency has had remarkable success in carrying out those Amendments, and, to date, has not missed a single deadline that Congress placed in the law. We are honoring the commitments you made in passing this legislation, and we are meeting the safe drinking water needs of the American people.

. We have made significant progress on many of the key action items in the Clean Water Action Plan and will soon announce a joint strategy with USDA to protect waterways from non-point source pollution from animal feeding operations. I would like to thank this Committee for its support and funding for the Clean Water Action Plan, almost all of which goes to the states.

. Today, because of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Construction Grants programs supported by this Committee, more than 176 million Americans receive the benefit of at least secondary treatment of wastewater, keeping pollution out of our rivers, lakes and coastlines.

. We are making significant progress cleaning up toxic waste sites. As of the end of 1998, 585 Superfund toxic waste sites have been cleaned up. An additional 85 construction completions will occur in 1999. In addition, 227 communities have benefitted from more than $44 million in grants to revitalize Brownfields. The Brownfields program has helped to leverage over $1 billion in private investments which have gone a long way toward revitalizing communities.

. Approximately 164 million Americans are breathing cleaner air today, because of the Clean Air Act. I would like to thank this Committee for providing funding to carry out this legislation which provides crucial health protections.

Our Fiscal Year 2000 Budget, in the tradition of every previous budget submitted by this Administration, is based on what the President and Vice Presidents have proved over the past six years - that we don't have to choose between environmental protection and economic growth. A strong economy and a healthy environment and a healthy economy go hand in hand. They are inextricably linked.

Today, we have some of the toughest environmental and public health protections in the world, and our economy is not only strong, it is soaring. In 1992, this nation had a record high $290 billion deficit. This year, we expect a $79 billion budget surplus. That's progress.

Building on this record of success, the Clinton-Gore 2000 budget request charts a new course to meet the environmental challenges of the coming century. This budget recognizes that protecting our environment is about more than beautiful vistas and scenic rivers, and it's about more than passing new environmental and public health laws. It's about protecting our health, our air, our water, our land, our food, and our children.

This budget reflects a new American ideal. It's about neighborhoods, protecting where we live and how we live, and what we do in the everyday life. It's about communities -- and how we keep them healthy, strong, and prosperous. It's about improving the quality of our lives.

Three new landmark initiatives in this budget reflect President Clinton's and Vice President Gore's commitment to America's communities. These initiatives provide significant new, innovative financial tools to give communities the flexibility they need to address their most pressing environmental and public health needs. They tap into our nation's greatest resources -- our ingenuity and spirit of collaboration. They protect our most precious resource first -- our children.

The Better America Bonds program puts the Agency in the forefront of support for the President's and Vice President's initiative to build livable American communities. This new, innovative, financial tool is aimed at helping communities address problems associated with urban sprawl -- such as, traffic congestion, lost farmland, threatened water quality, shrinking parkland and abandoned industrial sites, or Brownfields. This is about flexibility. Communities can decide for themselves how they will preserve their open spaces, protect their water, revitalize their blighted urban areas, and improve their quality of life. The Administration proposes federal tax credits that will support $9.5 billion in bond authority over five years for investments by state, local and tribal governments. Through this initiative, the funds invested by local communities to protect the environment could go farther. I urge you to give local communities this flexibility to address their most urgent environmental needs.

The President's budget includes $200 million for a new Clean Air Partnership Fund - an initiative that is part of the Administration's efforts to clean the nation's air and meet the challenge of global warming. The Clean Air Partnership Fund will promote innovative technology demonstrations to help communities nationwide reduce harmful air pollution and greenhouse gases. The Fund finances, through grants, the creation of partnerships among local communities, states and tribes, the private sector, and the Federal government. There is no requirement to participate. These are simply grants designed to finance projects that are locally managed and self-supporting and that enable communities to achieve their clean air goals sooner. The Fund will stimulate cost-effective pollution control strategies, spur technological innovation, and leverage substantial non-federal investment in improved air quality.

The Agency will take a leadership role as part of an Administration-wide effort to fight childhood asthma and address this growing problem. Five million children suffer from this debilitating disease. President Clinton has provided an additional $17 million, for a total of $22 million, to reduce children's exposure to toxins in our environment that can exacerbate asthma. This funding will implement an inter-agency initiative for education, outreach, and air monitoring. An additional $12 million, for a total of $40 million, focuses on other chronic childhood afflictions, such as cancer and developmental disorders. EPA's investment to protect children from environmental threats totals $62 million.

In addition to these three new initiatives, the President's budget also continues our work on the nation's other environmental and public health priorities.

Last year, the President announced a national blueprint to restore and protect our nation's rivers, lakes, and coastal waters -- and we made great progress. The President's budget allocates $651 million for the Clean Water Action Plan, and related activities, to continue our efforts to restore and protect watersheds across the country.

Because polluted runoff is one of the most serious problems facing communities, the President proposes another important flexible funding mechanism -- this one designed to help communities provide clean water. The President's proposal will allow states greater flexibility to address their most pressing water quality problems: polluted runoff from city streets, suburban lawns and rural areas. The proposal will give states for the first time the option to set aside up to 20 percent (or as much as $160 million) of their FY 2000 Clean Water State Revolving Fund allotment for grants to implement non-point source pollution and estuary management projects. We will need the authority to allow states to set aside these funds for this state-managed grant program. I look forward to working with Congress to provide this authority so that we can implement this important, new funding mechanism.

In addition, the President's budget provides a combined $1.625 billion for the state revolving funds (SRF), of which $800 million funds the Clean Water SRF and $825 million funds the Drinking Water SRF. The Drinking Water SRF increases from last year, and will help achieve the Administration's goal of capitalizing the Drinking Water SRF until states can provide an average of $500 million in annual financial assistance for drinking water projects.

The Clean Water SRF request is part of the Administration's overall capitalization plan to ensure states can provide an average of $2 billion a year in financial assistance for water quality projects. We plan to continue capitalization of the Clean Water SRF until this goal is met. I would like to note that almost $16 billion in Federal capitalization grants have been provided so far to the Clean Water SRF, or almost 90% more than originally authorized.

The President's budget invests approximately $216 million at EPA, and $1.8 billion government-wide, to help reduce the pollution that causes global warming. This program will continue the Administration's efforts to address the challenge of climate change through innovative, cost-effective partnerships with businesses, schools, states and local governments that voluntarily lower energy use -- and energy bills, for everyone. The Climate Change Technology Initiative proposed by the President this year also offers tax credits for consumers who purchase fuel efficient cars, homes, appliances and other energy-efficient products. It also includes increased spending on research to develop new, cleaner technologies in areas like the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles and the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing.

The President's budget invests $1.5 billion in Superfund to continue cleanup of toxic waste sites. The Agency plans to complete clean up construction at 85 sites for a total of 755 construction completions by the end of 2000, with a target of 925 through 2002. The Budget also invests approximately $92 million in the clean up and redevelopment of abandoned industrial sites through our Brownfields Program, including $35 million for the Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund which helps communities leverage funds for actual cleanup of Brownfield sites. Through 2000, the Agency will have funded Brownfields site assessment pilots in 350 communities across our great nation.

Of special importance in this budget proposal is our request to increase the Agency's Operating Programs by five percent over the FY 1999 Enacted level. This budget provides $3.7 billion for the Operating Programs, which include most of the Agency's research, regulatory and enforcement programs and funds our partnership programs with states, tribes, and local governments. The Operating Programs, which have grown 33 percent during this Administration, represent the backbone of the nation's efforts to protect public health and the environment through sound science, standard setting, and enforcement. It is through these programs that the Agency works to ensure that our water is pure, our air is clean and our food is safe. I cannot emphasize enough the important contribution the Operating Programs make to the Agency's ability to meet the expectations of the American public for a safe, healthy environment.

As part of these important Operating Programs, the President requests $19 million for the Chemical Right-To-Know Program. This includes $14.4 million for the Chemical Right-to-Know Initiative to focus on accelerating the screening and testing of the 2,800 highest production volume chemicals used in the U.S. We will conduct this initiative through a voluntary industry challenge program and a series of test rules for those data not obtained through the voluntary program. Information on these chemicals, many that we use daily in virtually every aspect of our lives, will be broadly disseminated to the public. The President's budget also provides $18 million for Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) to provide citizens with access to real-time information about the health of the air, land and water in their communities.

The President's budget supports sound science with $681 million for developing and applying the best available science for addressing current and future environmental hazards, as well as new approaches toward improving environmental protection. The Agency will focus its research efforts on areas such as Particulate Matter, Global Change, Mercury and the Coastal Research Initiative.

The Air Toxics program increases by almost $18 million in new funding, for a total of approximately $109 million. This program will focus on urban air toxics to develop tools and data that will move the air toxics program from an almost exclusively technology-based program to a risk-based program. The program is geared to reduce risks for poor and minority groups, who are more prevalent in urban areas, and will increase protection to a larger number of more sensitive populations, such as children and the elderly.

The budget request for the Mexican Border is $100 million, a $50 million increase, for projects there. The Agency will use these resources for direct grant assistance intended to address the environmental and public health problems associated with untreated industrial and municipal sewage on the border.

These are the highlights of our Fiscal Year 2000 Request. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate that this Subcommittee balances different priorities which are all important to our nation, and that you do so with the responsibility of stewardship over the taxpayers' dollars. I look forward to discussing with you, as the year progresses, the initiatives and innovative financing mechanisms in our budget request. I believe they embody a common-sense, cost-effective approach to environmental protection. I would be happy to answer your questions at this time.


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