Thank you, Madam Chairman, for scheduling this hearing on EPA's fiscal 2008 budget request. I am deeply concerned that this budget request fails to provide the investments needed to restore the health of our nation's waters and of the Chesapeake Bay, in particular.
Last month marked the 20th anniversary of the enactment of the Water Quality Act of 1987 – the last time the Clean Water Act was reauthorized.
That act reaffirmed the goals of eliminating pollution from our nation's lakes, rivers, and coastal waters, and it established the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF). It also formally authorized the Chesapeake Bay Program to help protect and restore our nation's largest estuary.
By cutting the Clean Water State Revolving Fund by nearly $400 million below the FY 2007 level approved by the Congress – the biggest cuts of any EPA program — and severely shortchanging the funds necessary for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, this budget, in my view, threatens to set back our efforts to attain the goals of the Clean Water Act and the Chesapeake Bay Program.
The need for additional investment in water quality improvement programs is well documented. EPA's most recent state-by-state survey of wastewater infrastructure published in august 2003 detailed a total need of more than $181 billion for publicly owned wastewater treatment facilities and other eligible activities under the Clean Water Act to control pollution from storm water and non-point sources.
An October 2004 report of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Blue Ribbon Finance Panel concluded that “…(t)he (Chesapeake Bay) Program cannot meet the future challenges of restoring the Bay because it lacks the funds to do so.”
The report identified a total need for $28 billion in investments to finance pollution reductions, including $6 billion for upgrading more than 400 major sewage treatment plants in the watershed with enhanced nitrogen removal.
Yet, the Administration's Fiscal 2008 budget request proposes to cut the principal federal source of assistance to state and local governments for upgrading sewage treatment plants from $1.1 billion to $687.5 million – a cut of $384 million.
Under the President's budget, Maryland would be cut $9.5 million below this year's level and nearly 50% from FY 2001.
The cuts for the Chesapeake Bay area states of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia total $35.3 million below the current year and $58.7 million below the FY 01 levels.
The EPA Chesapeake Bay Program would essentially be funded at the same level that Congress appropriated in fiscal 2006.
I recognize that EPA faces budget constraints. But it is critical that the federal government maintain a strong partnership with the states by sharing the burden of improving the nation's water infrastructure and restoring the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay.
I look forward to hearing the testimony of Administrator Johnson and the rationale behind this budget proposal.