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EPA: Funds For Science & Technology Up

by Cheryl Hogue
February 27, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 9

The President proposes an overall budget cut for the Environmental Protection Agency. However, he asks Congress to provide a slight increase of 1.7% to EPA’s science and technology efforts, raising this funding from nearly $794 million in 2012 to $807 million in 2013.

“Science remains the foundation of the work of the EPA, and this budget continues our investment in cutting-edge research,” Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said at the budget rollout.

The proposal includes $14 million to study the safety of hydraulic fracturing. Also known as fracking, this is a drilling method that uses sand, chemicals, and water under pressure to extract natural gas from shale. The agency seeks $6 million to continue a congressionally recommended investigation into whether fracking can pollute underground drinking water supplies. EPA also requests an additional $8 million to expand the research to other possible effects of fracking. “In collaboration with the Department of Energy and the U.S. Geological Survey, we will begin to assess the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on air quality, [surface] water quality, and ecosystems,” Jackson explained.

The President’s budget also seeks an increase for chemical-related research in 2013, asking for nearly $135 million, up from $131 million in 2012. EPA would use $4.1 million for a type of green chemistry research called sustainable molecular design. “This effort will provide new principles for alternative chemical design and reduce the likelihood of unwanted toxic effects of nanomaterials and other chemicals,” according to budget documents. “EPA will use this program to generate the critical information needed by manufacturers to develop inherently safer processes and products that minimize or eliminate the associated adverse impacts on human health and the environment that could result from the manufacturing, use, and disposal of chemicals.”

Additionally, the EPA budget proposal includes $81 million for the popular Science To Achieve Results program, which funds graduate fellowships and research grants to universities.

In a belt-tightening move, the proposed budget would also do away with some research efforts at EPA. For instance, the agency would eliminate its clean car technology effort, saving $8 million, based on 2012 funding levels. Instead, other federal programs, including the Department of Energy’s Vehicles Technology Program, will focus on development of advanced automotive technology, budget documents say.

EPA would slash another $8 million from its science and technology budget by ceasing grants for research on radon. The agency also would discontinue research on the effects of cleaning materials in schools for a savings of $1 million.


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