(Remarks as prepared for delivery)

We are here today to review the Administration's proposed Fiscal Year 2009 budget for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Since this is the Bush Administration's final budget proposal, let's ask ourselves a simple question:

Is EPA better able today to protect people and communities from serious public health and environmental problems than it was when this Administration took the reins?

The answer is a resounding "No."

The Bush Administration's proposed budget for 2009 represents a 26% decline in overall EPA funding since the Administration's first budget was enacted, when adjusted for inflation. Budgets are about priorities - this shows the low priority that the Bush Administration places on environmental protection.

One hard hit area is resources for cleanup of contaminated toxic waste sites. This budget would represent a 16% decline in the total Superfund budget since FY 2002, when adjusted for inflation.

One in four people live within four miles of a Superfund site, including 10 million children. Human exposure is not under control at 90 sites, and EPA has insufficient data to know if exposure is controlled at 154 others.

Over the last seven years, the pace of cleanups has declined by about 50% compared to the last seven years of the prior administration, from about 80 cleanups per year to about 40.

Our families and communities deserve a real commitment to cleaning up our nation's most dangerous sites.

Leaking underground storage tanks pose a serious threat to groundwater quality in communities across the nation. The budget would cut funds to cleanup and prevent contamination from these tanks. More than 100 million people rely on groundwater for drinking water. What could be more basic than making ensuring clean, safe drinking water?

The budget would also cut $134.1 million from the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Funds, which communities use to prevent water pollution. This is another one of the hardest hit programs, and it is heading in the wrong direction.

The budget also proposes cutting $9.8 million from the Diesel Emissions Reduction Grant Program. According to EPA, pollution from toxic soot, much of which comes from diesel engines, causes 15,000 premature deaths each year. This program pays to retrofit diesel engines. This is a cost effective ways to reduce air pollution, and the last thing we should be doing is cutting it.

Despite the Administration's claims of a commitment to action on global warming, this budget also proposes to cut funding for several actions to curb global warming, including eliminating funding to implement a Greenhouse Gas Registry. This comes on top of the EPA's denial of the California waiver, and I'll have some further questions about that today as well.

The Bush Administration's FY 2009 budget undermines EPA's ability to carry out its mission and would leave the Agency less able to protect public health than it was when the Bush Administration first entered office.

The American people deserve better.

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