Bush's Administration has once again launched an assault on environmental protection
in our country. Our nation's environment has had by far the biggest price to pay
in his belt-tightening plan. On February 7, 2005, the Bush Administration proposed
to cut the Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 budget for the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) by nearly 7 percent. This action mirrors the President's neglect of the
environment first demonstrated in his State of the Union Address, which revealed
a disturbing lack of solutions for ongoing environmental challenges.
"This budget not only shortchanges our environment, it challenges our nation's
role as a global environmental leader," said independent Senator Jim Jeffords
In FY2005, the budget was cut by $1.9 billion dollars compared to FY2004 spending.
Now, the EPA will take an even bigger hit. Bush has stated that his plan is to
make cuts throughout the government to deal with the deficit, but the reality
is that environmental activities are often singled out for disproportional reductions
relative to other domestic programs, putting the nation's air, land, and water
Most of the EPA cuts for FY2006 are due to a reduction in government contributions
to upgrade sewage and septic systems and storm-water run-off projects. Funding
for our nation's water-quality infrastructure fell by 33 percent in the Bush Administration's
Although the budget plan cuts contributions to a clean water fund used by states,
it includes more money to be used in cleaning up toxic waste sites. The National
Environmental Trust (NET), an environmental group, believes that Superfund should
not gain at the expense of clean water programs.
"Clean water or toxic waste, how can Congress make that choice?" said NET President
Funding for Superfund, a program established by the federal government to clean
up toxic waste sites, will increase by about 10 percent. This will allow the EPA
to complete clean-ups at about 40 sites and begin work at up to 12. However, the
numbers are down from levels seen during the second term of the Clinton administration,
when the EPA cleaned up an average of 87 sites per year.
Although the justification that the Bush Administration gives for the cuts bases
the policies on "sound science," the administration is requesting significant
cuts to the EPA's Science and Technology accounts. The cuts, totaling $93 million,
represent close to a 12 percent cut from FY2005. According to the Bush Administration,
the cuts will include reductions in air, water, and toxics research.
The changes in funding vary greatly from one environmental program to another,
but almost all areas have taken some form of a hit in this new budget. The largest
cuts are focusing on the water quality infrastructure and will have an affect
on every American.
Funding for America's water infrastructure includes a broad range of activities,
including sewage plants, water purification facilities, and targeted pollution-prevention
investments. The total investments will drop from $2.6 billion to $1.8 billion,
an $822 million dollar cut that represents more than 30 percent of the total for
water infrastructure investments. When compared with the $450 billion in needs
identified by the EPA in the Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Gap
Analysis of 2002, these cuts are difficult to justify.
The President's budget takes no responsibility for the growing national needs
of communities to protect and restore their watersheds. The budget cuts nearly
$30 million from the non-point source pollution control program, which deals with
pollution running off of farms, feedlots, parking areas, and other diffuse sources.
This administration is ignoring its own research and denying federal responsibility
for the hundreds of billions of dollars that are needed to update aging infrastructure
in order to keep our streams and rivers clean and disease-free.
The Bush Administration has made some increases in the budget for the environment,
including a 10 percent increase for the Superfund and a three percent increase
for Fish and Wildlife Services. However, these increases may not be what they
The Superfund program was based on the principle that polluting companies should
be held accountable for the messes they make. President Bush's budget, while proposing
a slight increase of the FY2005 budget for Superfund cleanup, effectively abandons
the "polluter pays" principle by failing to call for reinstatement of the Superfund
fees to pay for the program. Instead, it will be the taxpayer who is footing the
bill for these cleanups.
Next, we have the increase for The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). This federal
agency has the important mission of preserving the unique wildlife and plant species
found in America. The problem remains that while the Bush Administration has increased
the overall FWS budget, it has made direct cuts to two of the most important operating
programs in the FWS: The Endangered Species and National Wildlife Refuges. The
Bush Administration seems to be attempting to hide its cuts to FWS and its neglect
of our valuable and vulnerable national resources.
In Bush's Presidential Campaign for the election in 2000, the nation heard assurances
that the federal government would vigorously work to conserve our land's greatest
resources. There were guarantees of better environmental programs and more funding.
But in his first term, the promises of the President fell short. Already, his
second term has been filled with yet more unfulfilled vows. Here are some of his
most damaging empty promises:
promised to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation (LWCF). In reality, the
Bush Administration actually only provided one-third of the $900 million promised
to the LWCF.
For the last decade, the LWCF has been our nation's premiere tool to create and
preserve parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and open space. In his 2004 campaign,
President Bush promised to fully fund LWCF, and heard cheers from all concerned
Americans. But his FY2006 budget only allows for $300 million. Just as the Administration
did last year, it then tried to disguise the shortfall by arbitrarily declaring
more than a dozen other ongoing programs to be part of the LWCF.
Unfortunately the programs that the Bush Administration has grouped in with the
LWCF are not the same, and the money does not go to the same use as it would with
the LWCF. The result is that national treasures from the Everglades to neighborhood
parks will suffer from the resulting net loss in funds for expanding and consolidating
parks, refuges and forests.
Bush promised to fully fund The National Ocean Service (NOS). However, the Administration
has only provided 7 percent of the funding that the President pledged to the NOS.
The NOS is the primary federal agency working to protect and manage America's
coastal waters and habitats. President Bush's budget request for FY2006 proposes
a debilitating cut of 35 percent from FY2005 levels.
The NOS is critical to our nation's rapidly declining coastal waters. Their programs
and activities include research into harmful algal blooms, oil spill damage assessments,
coastal zone management grants, national marine sanctuaries, and estuary research
and conservation. A 35 percent reduction in these activities will jeopardize all
Americans who use our beaches and coastal waters for swimming, boating, fishing,
and other recreation.
Bush Promised to fully fund the coastal portion of the Conservation Trust Fund.
Unfortunately, Bush's budget proposal completely ignores the mandate to fully
fund the coastal portion of the Conservation Trust Fund. The Conservation Trust
Fund, which was established in October 2000 under the Land Conservation, Preservation,
and Infrastructure Improvement Fund, has a portion designated specifically for
our coastal land and waters. While this portion should contain $560 million in
funds for FY2006, the president's budget request seems to ignore the dedicated
levels and the existence of this fund, providing it with no funding at all. This
is another hit on our nation's coastal waters. Not only will recreation areas
decline in quality, but valuable fishing markets will be affected.
Bush promised to maintain the Conservation Trust Fund as part of the budget, but
the budget for FY2006 abandons the Conservation Trust Fund completely. Congress
enacted a roughly $2 billion-per-year conservation funding mechanism called the
Conservation Trust Fund, designed to ensure that, in good times and in bad, the
country always had enough money to meet our most important conservation, recreation,
wildlife, and preservation needs. But this year's budget abandons the Conservation
Trust Fund with the result that, across the nation, our parks, forests, wild lands
and wildlife will suffer.
Bush promised to ensure the upkeep of the 2002 Farm Bill., but the budget for
FY2006 fails to live up to that promise, reducing funding for key agricultural
Funding has been reduced for the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) and
the landmark Conservation Security Program (CSP). The budget would also cut mandatory
funds that the Farm Bill provided for the Renewable Energy System and Energy Efficiency
Improvements program, which provides grants, loans, and loan guarantees to farmers,
ranchers, and small rural businesses. Without this funding to conserve the land,
developers will easily and quickly take over farm and other undeveloped land,
destroying the open space we have worked so hard over the years to conserve.
Bush promised our nation better watersheds. Now, although the Administration's
budget proposes increases for specific watersheds, there have been huge cuts made
in overall water quality funding levels for these places. The Bush Administration
increased funding for the Great Lakes by $35 million and funding for the Chesapeake
Bay by $10 million. However, these increases are dwarfed by the huge cuts in overall
water quality funding levels for these places. Although President Bush is leaving
the public with watersheds, he is making a huge sacrifice in quality.
Bush promised to provide funding for alternative renewable energy. His administration
has, in fact, proposed a minor increase to the overall renewable energy budget.
However, the increase funds unproven new initiatives while cutting core renewable
The new budget provides an additional 16 percent for the president's hydrogen
initiative, whose benefits will take decades to materialize and which will generate
hydrogen from coal and nuclear energy. At the same time, the budget shortchanges
proven clean energy programs that provide a clear path toward energy independence
today. Most notably, it cuts solar energy programs by more than 4 percent and
biomass by 16 percent.
Perhaps the worst blunder of all is the President's plan to drill for oil in the
Artic National Wildlife Refuge. By doing so, he is ignoring every recent poll,
which show that the American people don't want drilling in the Arctic Refuge.
He is also turning a blind eye to the political reality that the U.S. Senate has
rejected Arctic drilling twice since 2001.
The Administration's proposal claims to earmark some of the revenues from Arctic
drilling for research into alternative, renewable sources of energy. They have
hidden the fact that they will be destroying an irreplaceable preserve because
they will be using a small amount of the profit to fund research for a renewable
energy form. America deserves a clean, safe, and affordable energy future, but
the FY2006 budget promotes an unbalanced plan tilted toward polluting and dangerous
sources of energy.
Many Americans are upset about the proposed FY2006 budget. Yet perhaps they should
have seen it coming.
the last few years, a new form of pollution has grown into a serious problem.
Over the past decade, it has been caused by the consolidation of countless small
farms into huge factory farms that raise thousands of hogs, heifers, and chickens
in impossibly cramped quarters.
These "concentrated animal feeding operations" raise an enormous stench, as giant
piles of rotting waste produce clouds of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic
compounds, and particulates. Their emissions have become so obnoxious that news
reports regularly pop up when area residents demand that these corporate farms
clean up their mess.
One of the first acts of the Bush Administration was to grant a two-year amnesty
for these factory farm polluters. Thoughtfully timed for release after the election,
and on a day when the story was certain to be lost amidst inaugural euphoria,
Bush offered "concentrated animal feeding operations" more than two years immunity
from the Clean Air Act as well as from certain toxic discharge standards.
This event was not the first time the Bush Administration has shown blatant disregard
for the safety of our environment, but perhaps, if it had not been so conveniently
hidden from the public eye, more noise would have been raised and the President
would not feel like he can walk all over our nation's environmental policies.
Perhaps former Vice President Al Gore said it best when he stated, "Unfortunately
we have also seen over the last few years a decision on the part of the Bush White
House to withdraw from the global process by which this crisis is being confronted.
President Bush has instead directed the nation's attention and resources toward
false crises while refusing to acknowledge a real crisis that is unfolding right
before our eyes."
Gore was referring to the President's decision not to attend meetings concerning
the Kyoto Treaty, an action which can serve as a window to the true environmental
ideals of the President.
Gore believes that the Bush Administration has attempted to take the focus off
the destruction they are causing our environment by creating false crises.
"Weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the alleged need for privatizing Social
Security are examples of false crises," said Gore. "But here's a real crisis staring
him in the face that desperately needs leadership from the President of the United
States and his financial supporters in the oil and coal industry don't want him
to acknowledge the reality of the crisis so he pretends that it doesn't exist."
Today, the Kyoto Protocol is in effect for the 141 nations that are signatories
to the treaty. One-hundred-forty-one different countries and 34 industrialized
countries have signed the treaty.
While most of the industrialized world has signed on to this global effort to
combat climate change, the United States, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases,
has been noticeably absent from the process since the Bush Administration's withdrawal
in 2001. Not only has the Bush Administration chosen not to sign the treaty, but
they have not even been present to discuss the horrific environmental problems
with the rest of the world.
Due to Bush's lack of action against green-house gases, which are exponentially
growing, California and several states in the Northeast have filled the leadership
vacuum and have taken steps on their own. Several large companies in the United
States have also taken it upon themselves to set standards and policies to combat
these green-house gases.
"It takes a moral courage to attack a real crisis and this current administration
has failed to demonstrate moral courage and has failed to confront this real crisis,"
said Gore. "But the problem is so vast that there is a great need for leadership
from other quarters such as from California and the Northeast compact states and
I applaud them and applaud the selected companies that are providing leadership
in confronting this crisis."
The Bush Administration has persistently sought to hide the true effect of its
budget cuts through a sideshow of deceptive gimmicks. It has repeatedly undermined
the use of science in decision making, replacing it with political agendas. And
most distressingly, it has greatly enlarged the environmental deficit that will
be left for America's children.
In good times and bad, America has always invested in the places and wildlife
that make this country special. This new budget, however, steps sharply away from
that longstanding conservation tradition. Token increases in a few, politically-charged
locations cannot hide its fundamental shortfalls in conservation of America's
If the United States continues to deplete its greatest resources for the next
four years due to the shortcomings in environmental leadership from the Bush Administration,
the devastation in the future will be catastrophic.
Kristina Cossaboon is a senior Biology Major with
a minor in Professional Writing. She is a staff writer for The Signal and is
currently employed by The Federal Natural Resource Conservation Service.