Lost amidst the general kerfuffle over the Bush administration's latest budget - ringing in at a hefty $3.1 trillion - has been a clear-eyed assessment of its environmental provisions, or, more accurately, lack thereof (unless you're a fan of nuclear energy). Chief among it are requests to fund the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program, the first such nuclear weapons program in 2 decades, and to begin construction of a new plutonium pit facility (necessary for building new bombs) - at the tune of $10m and $100m, respectively.
The DOE is also seeking a 79% increase in funding for its Nuclear Power 2010 program, an industry-government partnership designed to foster the construction of nuclear power facilities. The budget request would extend the period during which businesses can receive financial support for new "clean energy" plants under the 2005 energy bill's loan guarantee program - amounting to up to 80% of the incurred costs.Unfortunately, most of the country's other environmental initiatives and monitoring programs won't be benefiting from such largess - in fact, quite the contrary:
"President Bush again has cut the budget of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this time by $330 million to a total of $7.14 billion.
The cuts include over $270 million dollars from EPA programs that would clean up and restore lakes, rivers and streams. Global climate change research comes in at $16 million.
The Bush budget eliminates a $5 million EPA program to restore the San Francisco Bay. It cuts air pollution programs, including over $31 million dollars for grants to states, and eliminates a $10 million dollar program that would help clean up the air in some of California’s most polluted communities.
It eliminates funding for a new national registry to track global warming pollution."
Even Stephen Johnson, EPA Administrator and the administration's willing stooge, had trouble casting the record-cutting budget in a glowing light. Boasting that it would provide the "largest enforcement budget ever" - thanks to an (anemic) $9m bump to a $563m budget - he claimed it would help the EPA "deliver a cleaner, healthier tomorrow" and represented "government at its best" (we're not kidding).
The new budget will provide some modest boosts to nanotechnology research, an international goods tracking system and environmental reviews for new energy projects. In addition to making cuts to the Department of Interior and other government agencies, Bush's proposal would also starve funding for infrastructure projects around the country, particularly critically needed water resources infrastructure.