I have significant concerns about the President’s budget request for the Environmental Protection Agency. I understand the difficult choices we have to make, but from my perspective, the President’s EPA budget will not meet our responsibility to protect human health and the environment.
Perhaps nothing illustrates this better than the President’s request for the Superfund Program, which would be cut by 100 million dollars. Superfund is already strapped for cash. The cut in next year’s budget comes on top of a 35 percent cut in funding over the last decade.
Mr. Chairman, Superfund is not just about a few select states – it affects the entire country. One out of every four Americans lives within four miles of a Superfund site. And 10 million of those are children. The Washington Post ran an article a few months ago reporting on a visit by former EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt to a Superfund site in Omaha, Nebraska. As with so many others, that clean-up is barely moving. At a news conference, Samantha Bradley, a feisty 8-year-old, confronted Administrator Leavitt. She felt the government was ignoring her and her family and the health risks they faced. Samantha said, "If the president or the mayor lived in this neighborhood, they'd probably get it cleaned up like that." The President’s EPA budget leaves Samantha – and many other children across the county – behind.
Mr. Chairman, I have many other concerns about this budget request. For instance, there isn’t sufficient funding for the nation’s water infrastructure, which is overwhelmed and allows billions of gallons of untreated sewage to flow directly into our rivers. This is a serious public health issue and now is not the time to be cutting back on this program. Given the current rate of sewer overflows, within the decade our rivers will resemble the cesspools many of them were in the 1970s. We must stop this backward slide.
I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here to stay within my allotted time. It looks like we have a lot of hard work to do to restore adequate funding for crucial programs that protect the health of our children and the environment. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.