WASHINGTON - Environmental Protection Agency administrator Carol Browner lashed out July 18 against the House Appropriations Committee's action to cut EPA's 1996 budget by a third, saying, ``Our air, our food our drinking water ... will not be as safe.'' The budget cuts are ``the biggest reduction by far for any major agency.''
``This means we will not be able to sustain the level of public health and environmental protection that the American people are accustomed to,'' Browner said.
But instead of trying to restore the cuts in the EPA's appropriations document, Democrats on the committee at-tempted to keep as-is such EPA enforcement programs contained in the Clean Water Act, as a means of prompting attention to the environmental agency's budget debate in the Senate.
On July 11, a House appropriations subcommittee slashed the agency's ability to overrule state pollution rulings, enforce low-priority rules, or set stricter standards for hazardous waste incineration or air and water quality.
The appropriations committee left largely intact cuts in EPA's budget imposed by subcommittee action of a week earlier, which called for a $4.87 billion EPA budget for 1996, down $2.5 billion, or 34 percent, from what President Clinton wants.
Despite overall cuts, the subcommittee boosted Clinton's request for EPA research and development by $34 million, to $384 million for 1996.
Browner also noted that the subcommittee effectively eliminated the agency's ``Community Right to Know'' initiative, a disclosure program designed to make public certain industrial pollution test results. The agency had started the program with the hope that public review of pollution levels would prompt industries to curb pollution outputs.
EPA's ``low-level priority'' enforcement program also was slashed, by $130 million, or about 40 percent from its current level.