FROM THE ARCHIVE
EPA Budget: No new funds for tribal grant programs
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APRIL 13, 2001

Although Environmental Protection Agency Chief Christie Whitman earlier this week touted her fiscal year 2002 budget as reflecting the Bush administration's commitment to tribes and states, assistance grants to these key partners have been cut.

The EPA's budget, released on Monday, is $7.3 billion. Based on the budget authority limit for the agency, the amount is 6.4 percent less than 2001.

About half of the budget is in the form of grants to tribes, states, and EPA partners. At $3.3 billion, Whitman said this represents an increase of $500 million above 2001.

Grants to help tribes to develop environmental policy and support environmental programs, however, won't be seeing any increases in funding. In fact, assistance grants for tribes and states have been cut by $332 million.

One area where the cut shows up is the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF). The fund helps tribes and states construct drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities.

The fund has been highlighted over the years -- even by the Clinton administration -- a way of developing partnerships with tribes and states. But the fiscal year 2002 request doesn't immediately reflect this goal as the CWSRF has been cut from the $1.3 billion enacted in 2001 to $850 million.

Tribes only get one-and-a-half percent of CWSRF, amounting to $12.75 million in wastewater grants. However, the EPA and the Indian Health Service estimate tribal infrastructure needs exceeded $650 million as of 1997, with some 70,000 homes having inadequate or non-existent wastewater treatment.

Tribal grants under the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) were less clear. The total request is $823.2 million, the same level enacted in 2001, and the EPA only says "some" tribes will receive grants.

Wastewater and drinking water funds for Alaska Native villages stay the same. The 2002 request is again $34.9 million, while the EPA estimates that more than 20,000 homes in villages lack basic sanitation facilities.

Similarly, the request for Indian General Assistance Program Grants is $52.5 million, the same level as 2001. The program had seen a $10 million increase from 2000 to 2001 under the Clinton administration.

The request for Tribal Assistance Air and Radiation Grants is $11.0 million, again the same as 2001. The program had seen no increase during the final year of the Clinton administration.

The EPA says the General Assistance request will enable most tribes to maintain at least one or two people to address environmental issues on reservations. The EPA also points out that Indian Country funding has increased by about $38 million to $218 million over the last decade.

Elsewhere, tribes will be seeing a small increase in funds to assess ongoing environmental conditions. The budget requests $64.6 million to prevent pollution and reduce risks in Indian Country, up $251,700, or less than one-half of 1 percent, from 2001.

The EPA says the funding will enable the agency to complete a baseline assessment of conditions for 38 percent of the more than 550 federally recognized tribes. The assessments will be used for future planning in Indian Country.

Get the Budget:
FY 2002 EPA Budget Summary (EPA 4/9)

Relevant Links:
American Indian Environmental Office, EPA - http://www.epa.gov/indian

Related Stories:
EPA, DOI Budget: States get more say (4/10)
Tribe, state threaten toxic waste suit (4/9)
The Budget Overview (03/01)
Former EPA attorney gets probation (9/27)
EPA leader suspended (8/23)
EPA attorney pleads guilty (Enviro 06/28)

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