Environmental Protection:

EPA's Fiscal Year 1999 Budget Request

RCED-98-259R: Published: Sep 29, 1998. Publicly Released: Sep 29, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the underlying support for the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) requested fiscal year (FY) 1999 budget increases for the Superfund, climate change, and Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) programs, focusing on whether: (1) supporting documentation existed for the requested budgetary increases; and (2) the supporting documentation establishes a clear link between the increased funding and the results that EPA anticipates for the three programs.

GAO noted that: (1) the supporting material for EPA's FY 1999 budget for the Superfund, climate change, and EMPACT programs does not establish a clear link between the requested increased funding and the results--more Superfund cleanups, lower emissions of greenhouse gases, and better community access to environmental risk information--that EPA anticipates for the three programs; (2) for the Superfund program, EPA's requested increase of $586.4 million was to meet the estimated cost of cleaning up 136 additional sites during FY 1999; (3) planning data that EPA considers to be primary budgetary support addresses only 114 of the 136 sites that EPA states it will clean up during FY 1999; (4) in fact, not all of the 114 sites were ready for cleanup when EPA submitted its FY 1999 budget request; (5) furthermore, EPA did not designate 136 specific sites but, rather, estimated that 136 (out of 900 candidate sites) would be cleaned up; (6) because an unknown portion of these sites will be cleaned up at the expense of parties other than EPA, the link between the requested budget increase and the 136 additional sites to be cleaned up is uncertain; (7) for the climate change programs, EPA estimated that its requested increase of $85.6 million would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 million metric tons of carbon equivalent annually; (8) however, EPA has not identified the net impact of the Green Lights and Energy Star Buildings programs on emissions reductions; (9) other factors, independent of EPA's climate change programs, may also affect the annual levels of greenhouse gas emissions; (10) consequently, the supporting material does not establish a clear link between the requested increase and the anticipated results; (11) for the EMPACT program, EPA requested an increase of $19 million to improve the dissemination of information on pollutants at the local level; and (12) however, EPA could not furnish documentation supporting the program's anticipated milestones, criteria for monitoring and evaluating the program's performance, or the program offices' spending plans.

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