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2011 Budget Deal Would Slash EPA Budget 16 Percent

Date: 14-Apr-11
Country: USA
Author: Timothy Gardner, Ayesha Rascoe and Charles Abbott;

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency budget for this year will be cut 16 percent under government-wide reductions unveiled on Tuesday.

EPA funds would get a $1.6 billion cut for the fiscal year ending September 30 under Friday's last minute deal between President Barack Obama and Republican and Democratic leaders in the U.S. Congress that averted a government shutdown.

"Some programs will be cut back," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told reporters. She said the largest cuts to the EPA would be made in revolving funds that help states pay for pollution abatement.

There will be some cuts in the EPA's programs on climate, but those will be comparatively small compared to cuts in other agency programs, Jackson added.

Under the budget deal, many other government departments face smaller cuts than EPA on a percentage basis and the Department of Defense actually gets a boost.

Lawmakers are expected to vote sometime this week on the deal to cut another $28 billion from the government.

Many Republicans and some Democrats are anxious to delay or permanently stop EPA rules on greenhouse gas emissions. These critics say the rules could hurt businesses like oil refineries and power utilities, which could pass costs to consumers who are struggling to recover from the economic downturn.

The EPA began rolling out the rules in January and will propose emissions limits on refiners and power plants in coming months.

Last week EPA critics in the U.S. Senate failed to get enough votes to pass a measure that would have stopped the EPA from regulating emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for warming the planet.

Similar legislation passed easily in the Republican-controlled House, but that vote was mostly symbolic after the Senate vote.

Environmentalists said the budget deal was a sign that Republicans are not giving up even though the deal rejected specific provisions that would have stopped EPA efforts on climate.

"Republican opponents of EPA clearly have wounded the agency in a big way," said Frank O'Donnell, the president of Clean Air Watch.

He said the cuts could hamper the agency's ability to make sure air is safe and water is clean.

(Editing by David Gregorio)

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