Washington, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords, I -Vt., the Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, today called on President Bush to restore positions that have been cut at the Environmental Protection Agency’s office of enforcement. Jeffords made the request in a letter sent to President Bush on Tuesday, in response to data he recently received from the EPA indicating that the enforcement office would have 54 fewer positions in FY 2004 than it had in FY 2003, and 126 fewer positions than in FY 2001. Attached is a copy of the letter Jeffords sent to the President today, and two charts provided by EPA that compare EPA enforcement funding and staffing from FY 2001 to FY 2004. July 8, 2003 President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500 Dear President Bush: I am writing to you today to express my grave concern with the budget and the impact funding cuts have had on the conduct of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) enforcement office. Recent media accounts detail the hijinks of an enforcement program veering from the absurd, the recalling of agents’ communications equipment; to the possibly dangerous, the refusal to provide needed expertise to the FBI; to the misleading, the inflating of case work statistics. Civil and criminal enforcement of our nation’s environmental laws is a most basic component of EPA’s mission. Many of the environmental improvements in this country during the past 30 years can be attributed to a strong set of environmental laws and EPA’s efforts to ensure compliance with those laws. Cuts in enforcement personnel and budgets undermine EPA's ability to fulfill its mission and send a signal to polluters that there is little or no consequence for breaking the law. On February 3, the then Administrator of the agency, Governor Christine Todd Whitman, announced that the Administration’s environmental enforcement budget would “allow us to strengthen our federal enforcement effort by 100 FTE.” At the time I was hopeful. Now that I can compare the FY04 budget with the EPA’s actual operating plans for FY 01, 02, and 03, I am dismayed. The enforcement office would be 54 positions smaller under your FY 04 budget compared with enacted levels in FY 03 and 126 positions smaller compared with levels in FY 01. While one could argue that cuts of this size are not that large, a closer examination of the data indicates that nearly four-fifths of the overall reductions in the office’s personnel are in the EPA’s three key enforcement activities of civil enforcement, compliance monitoring, and compliance incentives. Combined these three areas are down nearly 100 positions from the FY 01 operating plan, a decline of nearly six percent. Equally disturbing is that fact that in FY 01 there were no positions for homeland security and today the EPA has an ever-expanding security mission. Homeland security should not come at the expense of core programs, but should be funded on top of them as an essential ongoing activity. I calculate that the approximate cost of restoring all of the positions cut from civil and criminal enforcement, and compliance monitoring and incentives would be less than $15 million. Mr. President, please direct the Office of Management and Budget to support the restoration of these funds during Congressional debate over the EPA’s FY 04 budget. Sincerely, James M. Jeffords Tables showing reductions Link