WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords, I – Vt., today vowed to fight the Bush Administration’s proposed 7.2 % cut in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2005. Jeffords, the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, voiced his concerns with EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt during a Committee hearing to review the agency’s 2005 budget request. “This budget is essentially flat and lifeless. It fails to recognize the tremendous public health and environmental challenges that we face now, and that we will leave for our children,” Jeffords said at the hearing. He continued, “We have a long way to go to protect the public's health and clean up the environment. According to the EPA, more than 20,000 people are dying prematurely from fine particulate matter coming out of power plant stacks. That's happening right now, not 20 years from now.” According to an analysis by the Environment and Public Works Committee minority staff, the President's 2005 Budget request: * Cuts the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by 7.2% and slashes clean water infrastructure funding by 37%, or $492 million, from the enacted fiscal year 2004 level. * Cuts funding for EPA's clean air and global climate change programs by 3%, or $21 million, from last year’s levels. * Pledges to clean up a paltry 40 superfund sites in 2005, down from an average of 87 sites a year cleaned up during the second Clinton Administration. * Cuts funding for Science and Research. The President's 2005 budget requests $689.2 million for Science and Technology, a decline of 11.8%, or $92.5 million, from the 2004 level of $781.7 million. Over 80% of this budget funds the EPA's R&D office.