WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2015 -- The Obama administration is asking Congress for $8.6 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for fiscal year 2016, which is $452 million, or 5 percent, more than its 2015 actual budget. 

“This budget sends a strong signal that the president is fully committed to making the investments needed to meet our mission to protect public health and the environment,” Acting Deputy EPA Administrator Stan Meilburg said at a Monday press conference. “The funding allows us to further our important work to combat the impacts of climate change and deliver on the president’s Climate Action Plan while improving air quality, protecting our water, executing rigorous scientific research, and ensuring the public safety from toxic chemicals.”

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which was proposed last year and which has the ability to both positively and negatively affect agriculture, is the centerpiece of the administration’s efforts to address climate change and improve air quality by reducing carbon pollution. However, the new Clean Power Plan rules, slated to into effect this summer, could face challenges from the new Congress, where Republicans control both the House and Senate.

The Clean Power Plan establishes carbon pollution reduction standards for existing power plants. In addition to EPA’s discretionary budget, President Obama has proposed $4 billion for a Clean Power State Incentive Fund administered by the EPA. This fund would reward states that go above and beyond their carbon pollution reduction goals by providing money for on-the-ground improvements in technology and infrastructure designed to further reduce carbon emissions, explained Meiburg.

“Working with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the EPA will also develop Phase 2 greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles,” notes the EPA. “These standards will represent significant savings at the pump, reduce carbon pollution, and reduce fuel costs for businesses.”

The administration also wants the EPA to build on its decades-long efforts to ensure clean waterways and safe drinking water. In addition to $2.3 billion provided through the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, an additional $50 million for technical assistance, training, and other efforts has been proposed.

The administration is also requesting $668 million -- an increase of $47.4 million over the 2015 budget == to develop new tools to identify commercial chemicals and pesticides in an effort to strengthen the capability of regulators to assess chemical hazards and potential exposures, identify potential risks to human health and the environment, and take appropriate risk management steps.

“The EPA will work aggressively to ensure sound science, complete additional risk assessments from the TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act) Work Plan list of existing chemicals and meet its requirement to review all current pesticide registrations by 2022,” the agency said.

Finally, the EPA is committing $2 million to promote the health of pollinators including honey bees, reverse pollinator losses, and help restore populations to healthy levels.


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