Biden’s FY 2022 EPA Budget: $11.2 Billion with Focus on Environmental Justice and Science

U.S. President Joe Biden’s FY 2022 budget request of $11.2 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency makes historic investments in environmental justice, science and support for the agency’s state and local programs, and reverses years of declining operating budgets

Submitted to Congress on May 28, 2021, the budget advances key EPA priorities, including tackling climate change, advancing environmental justice, protecting public health, improving infrastructure, creating jobs and supporting and rebuilding the EPA workforce.

“The FY 2022 President’s Budget proposes the investments needed to advance EPA’s mission across the board. The budget boosts support to our state, local and Tribal partners, increases support for national treasures like the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay, accelerates job-creating water infrastructure improvements, elevates environmental justice across the agency, increases support for science and importantly, makes sure all EPA offices have the operational budgets and workforces they need to deliver for the American people,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.

Environmental Renaissance

Depending on the administration, environmental regulatory compliance can be a moving target. Compliance with environmental regulations is considered a baseline. But if you go above and beyond regulations – so that you no longer have to change policies and programs every time a new administration is installed – can that ultimately make life easier for you and your organization?

Regardless of your role in environmental management, you probably tracked the regulatory rollbacks enacted during the Trump administration and wondered what changes will occur under the Biden administration. The answer is clear: The Biden administration appears to be calling for an environmental renaissance. Our insight report, Biden’s Environmental Renaissance: 2021 and Beyond, provides an expert’s view of changes that likely will be embraced by the Biden administration.

Do you have the corporate backing and the regulatory mandate to use environmental management software to structure sustainable workflows and develop strategies for not only achieving environmental compliance and also for setting environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals and policies that go beyond compliance?

This insight report examines:

  1. The United States’ new international policy on climate change.
  2. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) specific actions to counteract regulatory rollbacks from the Trump administration.
  3. What this environmental renaissance means for companies.

What’s in the FY22 EPA Budget Request?

Rebuilding infrastructure and creating jobs. Preventing and cleaning up environmental damage that harms communities and poses a risk to public health and safety “is an economic and moral imperative.” According to the agency. The budget provides $882 million for the Superfund Remedial program to clean up some of the country’s most contaminated land, reduce emissions of toxic substances and greenhouse gases from existing and abandoned infrastructure and respond to environmental emergencies, oil spills and natural disasters.

With this funding, the EPA would begin the cleanup of more than 20 National Priority List (NPL) sites and accelerate work at more than 15 NPL sites with ongoing construction projects and allow for enhanced engagement at lead contaminated sites. The $40 million increase to the Brownfields Projects Program will stimulate economic development and promote environmental revitalization across America. The

Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program is funded at $80 million to unlock more affordable credit to communities and create jobs by rebuilding and repairing our nation’s water infrastructure. Under the Homeland Security: Critical Infrastructure Protection Program, $15 million will be used to prepare water system operators for potential hacking threats.

Protecting Public Health. The budget includes $75 million to accelerate toxicity studies and fund research to inform the regulatory developments of designating per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous substances while setting enforceable limits for PFAS. In FY 2022, the agency will advance public health by providing an additional $15 million and 87 full-time equivalent employees (FTE) to build agency capacity in managing chemical safety and toxic substances under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) program, with a $60 million increase in funding, will reduce pollution from diesel school buses and help protect the health of children in underserved communities. 

Tackling the Climate Crisis with the Urgency Science Demands. The EPA’s recently relaunched Climate Change Indicators website makes clear the threat posed by a warming planet. The FY 2022 budget recognizes the opportunity in tackling the climate crisis by developing the technologies and solutions that will drive new markets and create additional jobs. The budget restores the Air, Climate and Energy Research Program and increases base funding by more than $60 million, including $30 million for break-through research through the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Climate (ARPAC) with the Department of Energy. The FY 2022 budget provides an additional $6.1 million and 14 FTE to implement the recently enacted American Innovation in Manufacturing Act and reduce potent greenhouse gases while supporting new manufacturing in the United States. To support international partners with the phase-out of HFCs, the budget includes more than a $9 million increase for the Stratospheric Ozone Multilateral Fund.

Advancing Environmental Justice and Civil Rights. The budget includes over $900 million in investments for environmental justice-related work, collectively known as EPA’s Accelerating Environmental and Economic Justice Initiative, elevating environmental justice as a top priority across the agency. The budget also proposes a new national program dedicated to environmental justice to further that goal. The budget provides $150 million for new environmental justice grant programs that aim to implement solutions to environmental burdens.

The budget also plans to overhaul the External Civil Rights Compliance Program with nearly $14 million directed to ensure enforcement of federal civil rights. The budget proposes $100 million for the development of a new community monitoring and notification program in the Air Office that will monitor and provide real-time data to the public on environmental pollution, focusing on those communities with the greatest exposure to harmful levels of toxins.

Supporting States, Tribes and Regional Offices. Almost half of the total budget request, $5.1 billion, will support states, Tribes and localities through the State and Tribal Assistance Grants account. Within this amount, $1.2 billion in Categorical Grants will help EPA partners operate their environmental programs. This includes nearly $322 million for State and Local Air Quality Management and $21 million for Tribal Air Quality Management.

The water State Revolving Funds (SRFs) ensure clean and safe water for communities across the nation, and the FY 2022 budget proposes $3.2 billion for the SRFs, an increase of $460 million to work to close the infrastructure financing gap. The budget increases every Geographic Water Program, from Puget Sound to Long Island Sound, and includes $578 million to ensure restoration and sustainable use of these national treasures.

Prioritizing Science and Enhancing the Workforce. The FY 2022 budget request includes an increase of 1,026 FTE to stop the downward slide in the size of EPA’s workforce in recent years to better meet the mission. The agency’s regional and headquarters offices have seen declining workforces over the last four years. Within this increase are 114 FTE to expand EPA’s research programs to ensure the agency has the science programs and communities demand from the EPA. Also included are 86 additional FTE to support the criminal and civil enforcement programs to ensure environmental laws are followed.

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About Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the Global EHSQ Content Lead for Intelex Technologies. Formerly the Content Director for EHS Today, she has been writing about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990. Her work as a journalist and editor has been recognized with national and international awards. She has been interviewed about occupational safety and health for national business publications, documentaries and television programs; has served as a panelist on roundtables; and has provided the keynote address for occupational safety and health conferences.

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