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Comment▼ EPA’s research budget

© 2007 American Chemical Society

EST040107comment.indd 2071

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STAR grant Ecosystems

100 Millions of dollars

T

hey say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I thought I would let the accompanying graph do most of my talking. Simply put, the U.S. EPA’s research budget for ecosystems and extramural Science To Achieve Results (STAR) grant funding is on a dangerous course. In the figure to the right, fiscal years 2007 and 2008 (FYs ’07 and ’08) represent President Bush’s budget requests. Because the FY ’07 budget is appropriated through a continuing resolution, the funding may actually stay the same as it was in FY ’06. Nonetheless, the trends are startling. The president’s FY ’07 total budget for EPA is $7.3 billion; each year since 2005, it has declined ~4%. EPA’s budget for the Office of Research and Development (ORD) in FY ’07 (president’s budget) is $557 million, about a 6% decline from the previous year’s enactment. EPA is the primary agency responsible for protecting the health of the environment, yet ecosystems research now represents <15% of the ORD budget and ∼1.1% of the total EPA budget. EPA is abdicating ecosystems research as a priority—it is in danger of becoming the “Human Health Protection Agency”, rather than the Environmental Protection Agency. Its Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program has been slashed; data collection in the lower Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico wetlands has been eliminated; and verification studies of surfacewater recovery from acid deposition in the Northeast have been dropped. When the STAR grant extramural funding program was implemented in the late 1990s, it was funded at ~$100 million per year with ~$10 million for emerging areas (unsolicited research). Funding for emerging areas has now been zeroed, and the program is reduced to $62 million in

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2008

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the president’s FY ’08 budget being debated now in Congress. The STAR program funds graduate students in all areas of environmental science throughout the country. Reducing the program jeopardizes the production of a talented scientific workforce to solve pressing problems of national and global need. Most polls show that the public supports the environment as a high priority. It’s time to convey that message of support to Congress.

Jerald L. Schnoor Editor [email protected]

APRIL 1, 2007 / ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY ■ 2071

3/16/07 11:25:59 AM