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Obama cuts EPA, increases Chesapeake Bay Program

Monday - 2/13/2012, 4:56pm  ET

By ALEX DOMINGUEZ
Associated Press

BALTIMORE - The Environmental Protection Agency's main program to restore the Chesapeake Bay would get more money but other projects for the water way would be cut in the budget released Monday by President Barack Obama, a Chesapeake Bay Foundation official said.

The budget calls for $15 million to be added to the $58 million budget for the EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Federal Affairs Director Doug Siglin said.

However, Siglin said the budget also calls for an overall cut in EPA funding, including a 20 percent from a $2.5 billion EPA revolving fund that provides money to the states for clean water programs. The spending plan also cuts staffing for the Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service which helps farmers reduce runoff and other pollution from their farms, he said.

"So, the really good news about the Chesapeake Bay Program is mitigated somewhat," Siglin said.

The EPA's revolving fund provides assistance to states and local jurisdictions to reduce pollution from sewage treatment plants and urban and suburban runoff. Siglin said they are critical components of state plans to achieve their pollution reduction goals under the EPA's new federally led bay restoration strategy.

While progress is being made to reach the goals by the strategy's 2025 deadline, federal, state and local resources "all are part of the mix and need to stay at as a high level as possible."

However, the president is facing pressure to control federal spending. The budget announced Monday is designed to remove $4 trillion from the federal deficit in 10 years through cuts and higher taxes on the wealthy. And he immediately faced criticism from Republicans that the budget failed to address the nation's fiscal problems.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)