- Stephen Johnson, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
On February 4, 2008, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters released the 2009 fiscal year (FY) budget request for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to fund construction, maintenance, and operation activities for the nation’s roadways, railways, and air transportation. The proposed $68.2 billion total represents a $2.13 billion decrease from the FY 2008 appropriations bill enacted in December 2007. Moreover, proposed budget rescission measures totaling $3.89 billion would further reduce the budgetary resources available to DOT in FY 2009 to $64.31 billion.
The Administration is again proposing dramatic cuts in federal support for Amtrak. Congress appropriated $1.3 billion for Amtrak in FY 2008 with $850 million going to capital and debt service and $475 million to operating subsidies. The Administration’s budget proposes a total of $800 million, a cut of $525 million or 40 percent. The Administration proposes $525 million for capital and debt service grants and $275 million for “efficiency incentive grants” which would replace direct operating subsidies and give the Secretary of Transportation discretion in how the funds are used.
Other highlights in the Department of Transportation (DOT) budget include:
- Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) – $1.8 billion. CMAQ supports transportation projects that assist in meeting and maintaining national ambient air quality standards.
- Clean Fuels Grant Program – $51 million to support transit operators in transitioning to cleaner and more efficient buses and fuels, an increase of $2 million from $49 million appropriated in FY 2008.
- Transit Planning – $113.5 million to support the activities of regional planning agencies and states to plan for transit investments, an increase of $6.5 million from $107 million appropriated in FY 2008.
The Administration’s proposed budget request includes $40.1 billion to fund highways and bridges through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), a $1.1 million decrease from the $41.2 billion total appropriated to FHWA for FY 2008, including the $1 billion supplemental appropriation for bridge repair. The requested amount also is below the $41.2 billion authorized in “SAFETEA-LU” (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users of 2005).
The proposed budget requests $10.1 billion for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to fund rail and bus transit needs. This represents an increase of $644 million over FY 2008 funding for FTA, but the amount is $202 million below the amount authorized by SAFETEA-LU.
More significantly, the Administration is proposing to transfer $3.2 billion from the Mass Transit Account to the Highway Account, which is estimated to have a negative balance of $3.2 billion dollars in FY 2009. The Administration says these funds will be repaid to the Mass Transit Account through provisions in a future transportation authorization law.
Of the $10.1 billion in total spending proposed for FTA in FY 2009, the Formula and Bus Grants program will receive $8.3 billion, which is the amount of obligation limitation authorized by SAFETEA-LU and is a $593 million increase over FY 2008.
Other major FTA program accounts are funded from the general fund, not the Highway Trust Fund, and are subject to more budgetary discretion. The largest general fund transit account is the Capital Investment Grants program (formerly known as New Starts), which would receive $1.6 billion under the proposed budget. This is $51 million above the FY 2008 level but below the $1.8 billion authorized by SAFETEA-LU for FY 2009. Overall, the Administration’s budget requests $202 million less than the amount authorized by SAFETEA-LU for general fund transit accounts.
For more information contact Jan Mueller, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-662-1883.
Overall, the fiscal 2009 USDA budget would cut discretionary spending by 4.8 percent. The major increases in the budget would go to food assistance programs to cover the growing number of people who qualify for food stamps and other aid programs. Two of the hardest hit areas of the budget would be research and conservation, which would each see budget cuts of almost 15 percent.Witness
The administration’s proposal would cut more than 10 percent from USDA’s research budget, which includes a wide range of programs, from livestock safety to farm-based energy, biotechnology and food safety. USDA Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner said last week that the cuts came from wiping out congressional earmarks for different research projects.
The White House also made what has become an annual effort to zero out funding for a number of discretionary programs it says are redundant, including local watershed surveys and flood prevention programs. The Bush administration has tried to eliminate the programs in previous years, but congressional appropriators have restored them each year. DeLauro noted she plans to restore the funds again this year.
This year the administration also targeted a popular renewable energy program in its spending cuts for the first time. The budget includes no funding for grants or loans for the “Section 9006” renewable energy program, which gives money to help farmers improve energy efficiency on their farms and develop small on-farm business ventures in wind, solar, biomass or geothermal energy.
The House and Senate both proposed large increases for the renewable energy program in last year’s farm bill and appropriations measures, and the administration had proposed expanding it in the farm bill. USDA included it this year in a list of programs that “serve limited purposes for which financing and other assistance is available.”
- Edward Schafer, Secretary of Agriculture
The agency’s fire suppression efforts would get a $148 million increase – to just under $1 billion – under the plan, a total based on the 10-year average of fire suppression costs. Last year, the Forest Service spent $1.4 billion fighting fires, the National Interagency Fire Center said.Witness
The Bush administration budget proposal would provide $297 million for projects to reduce hazardous fuels, down from $310 million in fiscal 2008. Fire preparedness would fall to $588 million from $666 million in fiscal 2008.
Several lawmakers last week slammed the proposed budget, saying it overemphasizes firefighting at the cost of fire prevention and forest restoration. . . Kimbell will be the sole witness before House appropriators on Wednesday. The chairman of the Interior subcommittee, Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), was also highly critical of the agency’s proposed budget cuts.
The Forest Legacy Program, which helps conserve threatened private forests, would be reduced $40 million, to $12.5 million. The budget would also eliminate $40 million that Dicks placed in the fiscal 2008 budget for road decommissioning and reclamation.
“The Forest Service has just gotten crushed,” Dicks said in an interview last week. “It’s cut 16 percent … and they don’t have enough money over there to do the trail work, the road work, the forestry with the states, the conservation.”
- Abigail R. Kimbell, Chief, U.S. Forest Service
Ed. —I would like to welcome the participation of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute on Hill Heat. EESI was founded in 1984 by a bipartisan group of members of Congress concerned about energy and environmental issues. Their initial series of guest posts will be drawn from their briefings on the president’s proposed FY 2009 budget.
The President’s FY 2009 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget request remains relatively flat compared to the FY 2008 request and is down slightly from FY 2008 appropriations. The FY 2009 budget request is $7.14 billion, which is $56.9 million (0.80%) less than the FY 2008 budget request and $330 million (4.4%) less than FY 2008 appropriations.
The President’s FY 2009 budget request for Clean Air and Global Climate Change (EPA Goal 1) is $939 million. This is $33 million (3.4%) less than the FY 2008 appropriations.
Looking at the EPA budget by goals, the Reduced Greenhouse Gas Intensity program within Goal 1 has a FY 2009 budget request of $121 million, which is $9.0 million (6.9%) less than the FY 2008 appropriations of $130 million and $1.7 million (1.4%) less than the FY 2008 budget request of $123 million.
Looking at the EPA budget by program and project, the FY 2009 budget request for Climate Protection programs includes a Science and Technology component, requested at $11.4 million, and an Environmental Program and Management component, requested at $87.0 million. Taken together, these were cut $10.3 million (9.5%) from FY 08 appropriations. The Climate Protection Programs include Energy Star, SmartWay Transport, the Methane to Markets Partnership and Asia-Pacific Partnership. There were a number of cuts, as well as a few increases to the programs, as illustrated below:
Climate Protection Programs
- $10.3 million cut overall (9.5% cut from FY 08 appropriations)
- Zeroing out the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Registry (100% cut from $3.4 million in FY 08)
- $6.9 million cut in Climate Science and Technology program (38% cut from FY 08 appropriations)
- $4.0 million cut in Energy STAR (8.3% cut from FY 08 appropriations)
- $177,000 increase in Methane to Markets (4.1% increase from FY 08 appropriations)
- $5.0 million increase in Asian Pacific Partnership (no previous FY 08 appropriation amount)
Clean Air Rules
Clean Air Rules are a major component of EPA’s Clean Air and Global Climate Change Goal, and include the Clean Air Interstate Rule, the Clean Air Mercury Rule and the Clean Air Nonroad Diesel Rule. These rules work towards the improvement of the United State’s air quality. Additionally, reductions on particulate matter from diesel engines will continue to be addressed through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Grants program of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58), which authorizes $200 million annually (2007-2011). However, the President requests just $49.2 million for the FY 09 EPA Clean Diesel grant, 25% of the authorized amount.
A table reviewing changes in the Goal I and overall EPA budget is below the jump.
|(dollars in thousands)||FY 2007 Budget Request||FY 2008 Budget Request||FY 2008 Appropriation||FY 2009 Budget Request|
|EPA Goal 1:
Clean Air & Global Climate Change Program
|Total EPA Budget||7,315,475||7,199,400||7,472,324||7,142,520|
Proposed budget estimates for fiscal year 2008 for the Department of Energy.