Bush Budget Slashes Environment

Washington, DC (February 5, 2007)- President George W. Bush today sent Congress a $2.9 trillion budget package for the fiscal year starting in October that includes big increases for defense spending, cuts in conservation programs, and assumptions that tax revenues will increase and that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will be leased for oil and gas development. Yet the administration said reducing U.S. dependence on petroleum imports and expanding incentives for clean energy technologies are central to the President’s energy budget proposal.

As part of $24.3 billion funding request for the Energy Department, the president is asking Congress to provide $2.7 billion to accelerate research into power generation technologies based on coal, nuclear energy and renewable sources, as well as the development of efficient vehicles and biofuels. “This budget builds on our commitment to strengthen our nation’s energy security by diversifying our energy resources and reducing our reliance on foreign sources of energy,” said Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman.
But while the newly elected Congress now controlled by Democrats generally supports reducing dependence on foreign oil and increases in renewable energy sources, some parts of the president’s budget are in for a rough ride.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada today took aim at the budget’s half-billion dollar proposal to develop the nation’s only high-level nuclear waste repository already approved by the President for Yucca Mountain, Nevada 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
In 2005, President Bush stated his commitment to increase funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program by $1.4 billion over the next 10 years in order to cut the utility bills of 1.2 million low-income families while conserving energy.
National Community Action Foundation Executive Director David Bradley said the administration’s plan unwisely elects energy experimentation over conservation.
“The administration is proposing that all new energy resources go into research and development of new technologies for the future. We certainly need new breakthroughs, yet it is not wise to invest only in risky, long-range experiments and neglect more immediate and proven home energy-saving upgrades,” Bradley said. Reducing energy use is the cheapest way for society to ease the demand for fuels.”
The most important environmental priority for the 110th Congress is the enactment of strong global climate change legislation – specifically, legislation that caps emissions of carbon dioxide and the other heat-trapping gases that are released through combustion of fossil fuels said a coalition of 21 national and regional environmental groups, introducing their Green Budget last week.
In total, the president’s budget cuts appropriated funding for natural resources and the environment by nearly $1.5 billion, a 4.8 percent cut. Briefing the media today, Rob Portman, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget attempted to introduce as “new” a plan to get the private sector to invest in the National Park System that was in fact introduced last August. “We are proposing today an exciting new plan, called the National Parks Centennial Initiative,” said Portman. “This new program will provide up to $3 billion over the next 10 years in new federal and private spending to help achieve new levels of excellence in our national parks.”
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