Acting Administrator Johnson, it is a pleasure to welcome you here today. I look forward to working with you and whoever is named your successor in these challenging budgetary times. I am very concerned about this nation’s fiscal constraints, but a budget is about priorities, and environmental protection must be a priority. Let me say right off the bat, that the administration’s proposed cuts to programs that protect our nation’s environment go too far. If enacted, the EPA’s budget would decline 5.6 percent compared with last year’s enacted levels, and in real terms, another 2.3 percent if inflation is taken into account. If the past four years serve as a guide, it would appear that there is no end in sight for cuts to EPA’s programs. Last year the program that funds clean water infrastructure in the states was cut 19 percent. This year the proposed cut is another 33 percent or 361 million dollars. The nationwide need for infrastructure dollars continues to far outpace the amount of funding that is available from all levels of government. In 2002, an EPA study assessed the spending for wastewater infrastructure and total funding needs nationwide to be $390 billion over 20 years. EPA also estimated that the funding needs for operation and maintenance, which are not currently eligible for federal aid, are an additional $148 billion. This dramatic reduction to the clean water revolving fund will unfairly shift the financial burden to the states, municipalities, and the public. For example, states located in the Northeast will see an approximate reduction of $106 million compared to last year, and Vermont alone will see a reduction of close to $2 million. In this and other programs, the spending austerity so evident in the President’s budget is accomplished by passing down costs to other levels of government. States and localities will now be faced with the stark choice of either curtailing services or increasing their own taxes to compensate for declining federal funds. On the air front, I am interested in a full accounting of how the Agency’s proposed mercury pollution standards became so compromised that a recent report by the Agency’s own Inspector General alleges that the health effects of mercury on children were overlooked. On related fronts, I hope we will learn why the Administration is moving so slowly on New Source Review Enforcement Actions and on implementing a new rule for fine particulates. I am extremely concerned about a drastic cut in the budget of the program that phases out ozone-depleting substances, and about the levels of funding for air pollution monitoring programs. We cannot afford to compromise on air quality. I know many members here are interested in the growing backlog of Superfund cleanups. Last year, EPA candidly acknowledged that funding was insufficient to start work on 34 priority projects in 19 states. Rather than request more money to provide EPA the needed resources to protect human health and the environment, the President requested 126 million dollars less than last year for Superfund remediation. For the third year in a row, inadequate funds have prevented EPA from starting to clean up the Elizabeth Mine in Strafford, Vermont. Similarly, the Ely Copper Mine in Vershire, Vermont, and the Pike Hill Copper Mine in Corinth, Vermont, are waiting for funds for a full remedial investigation and feasibility study. How much longer are these communities going to have to wait to get the acid mine drainage from these sites cleaned up? Last but not least, I am tired of the kabuki dance the Administration and the Congress are playing with Lake Champlain. The problems facing Lake Champlain are important and deserving of resources. Rest assured, I intend to find a way to adequately fund the EPA’s Lake Champlain program. Again thank you for being here today Acting Administrator Johnson. I look forward to your testimony.