Budget and Spending:

Observations on the Environmental Protection Agency's Budget Request for Fiscal Year 1992

T-RCED-91-22: Published: Mar 13, 1991. Publicly Released: Mar 13, 1991.

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GAO discussed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) budget request for fiscal year (FY) 1992, and provided its perspectives on how the United States might begin to balance national environmental protection goals with budget realities. GAO noted that: (1) EPA continued to have no more resources to deal with environmental problems than it did 13 years ago, in spite of high public expectations and growing responsibilities; (2) federal budget priorities should reflect an understanding of relative risks to the environment and public health, and the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of various approaches to reduce those risks; (3) EPA should measure changes in environmental conditions, rather than levels of agency activities, to get a more meaningful indicator of program effectiveness; (4) an environmental control strategy combining traditional regulatory approaches with pollution prevention and market incentives could be less costly to the economy as well as more effective in controlling pollution; (5) the federal government should address the financial difficulties that some small communities will face in trying to comply with federal environmental requirements; (6) EPA should work closely with Congress to shift resources from problems with less severe risks to human health or the environment to problems with greater risks; and (7) congressional involvement in setting environmental policies is essential.

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