WASHINGTON—A big spending increase is in the cards for the Environmental Protection Agency, and a slight decrease for the Department of Transportation, if the Clinton administration gets its way in fiscal year 1998. President Clinton's proposed budget for next year calls for $1.7 trillion to fund all branches of the federal government.
The proposed apportionment includes $7.6 billion for the EPA, up 12 percent from the current budget, and $38.4 billion for DOT, a cut of about 1 percent.
One of the major items in the EPA budget, as always, is Superfund.
The FY 1998 budget calls for $2.09 billion for Superfund cleanups, an increase of $700 million or roughly 50 percent from the FY 1997 figure.
The EPA proposal also calls for $324.3 million, an increase of $71.1 million, for Clean Air programs; $86.4 million, an increase of $7.5 million, for the Toxic Substances Program, including the Toxic Release Inventory; and $71.2 million, an increase of $11.2 million, for cleanup of leaking underground storage tanks.
For DOT, the FY 1998 budget reflects the President's desire both to strengthen transportation safety programs and to balance the federal budget by 2002, Deputy DOT Secretary Mortimer Downey said at a Feb. 6 press conference.
Transportation infrastructure is earmarked to receive $25.6 billion total in FY 98, slightly above the average for the past four years, according to Mr. Downey. This proposal is linked to reauthorization of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, which is pending this year.
In reauthorizing ISTEA, the Clinton administration wants to take the $767 million for funding Amtrak from the Highway Trust Fund. This plan is opposed by tire manufacturers and dealers, as well as all other highway users, because it means their tax dollars for highway improvements are diverted to other purposes.
DOT is hard at work streamlining its operations, according to Mr. Downey.
In the past four years, it has cut more than 11,000 positions.
But the plan announced two years ago to consolidate several DOT agencies, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is no longer being discussed.
``Our first goal is to get our programs reauthorized,'' Mr. Downey said. ``Once that happens, we might look again at consolidation. But right now it's off the table.''