Obama’s Budget Proposal Eliminates Fossil Fuel Subsidies and Cuts EPA Funding

President Obama submitted his fiscal year 2015 budget proposal on Mar. 4. In it, tax subsidies for fossil fuel companies were under the knife, as was the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) piece of the pie.

In the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) overview, it was noted that clean energy technologies are expected to spur future economic growth. With that backdrop, the DOE concluded that scarce resources should not be used to support some of the largest and most profitable companies in the world—namely, fossil fuel producers. In total, over $4 billion per year in repealed tax subsidies would be levied against oil, gas, and other fossil fuel producers, if approved.

Although that number makes the EPA’s $309.9 million reduction seem much less significant, the proposed cuts to the EPA’s budget are more likely to pass the Congressional approval process.

The EPA budget is divided among five main goals. The goal of protecting America’s waters received the bulk of the funding—$3.489 billion. Other EPA goals include: cleaning up communities and advancing sustainable development ($1.909 billion), addressing climate change and improving air quality ($1.031 billion), protecting human health and the environment by enforcing laws and assuring compliance ($793 million), and ensuring the safety of chemicals and preventing pollution ($673 million).

The president’s Climate Action Plan tasks the EPA with several items, not the least of which is setting carbon dioxide standards for power plants. As part of the plan, the budget provides an additional $10 million and 24 new staff members to assist in carrying out these duties.

Money has also been included in the budget to enhance the EPA’s analytical capabilities for air toxics work. The agency expects the funding to help with development of the National Air Toxics Assessment, update its methods for estimating area and mobile source emissions, and improve air dispersion modeling capabilities.

The EPA budget peaked in 2010 at $10.298 billion. It has been cut every year since then with the exception of 2014. The 2015 proposal of $7.89 billion brings the agency’s total back to just under its 2013 level.

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)

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