More for cleanups, acid rain studies Essay

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) intnds to pour significantly more money into garbage disposal — cleaning up abandoned toxic waste dumps and enforcing new regulations that govern the way small businesses and industries handle hazardous wastes (SN: 8/4/84, p. 71). EPA’s proposed fiscal year 1986 budget also expands its acid rain research program by about 60 percent.

“The increases, of necessity, focus on the problem of hazardous waste disposal,” says Lee M. Thomas, EPA acting administrator. “These levels also … accelerate the quest for knowledge essential to the prudent, effective management of environmental risks.”

Funding for the “Superfund” program would grow to $900 million, double the figure for FY ’84. Although the current law, under which EPA collects taxes levied on the oil and chemical industries to fund the cleanup of abandoned waste dumps, expires in September, the agency expects the statute to be reauthorized for another five years at an increased funding level.

A large part of the proposed $23 million increase in EPA’s acid rain research budget would be devoted to accelerated studies of the effects of acid rain on forests. Funds would also go into completing a national survey to determine which lakes and streams may be vulnerable to acid rain and into improved monitoring of dry deposition of acids.

In general, most other EPA programs would stay at FT ’85 funding levels or show modest increases. Included is an expanded research program to devise better techniques for identifying and determining the risks posed by pollutants and the effects of toxic substances and pesticides on human reproductive processes.

This overall increase, however, doesn’t satisfy groups like Environmental Safety (SN: 7/21/84, p. 36), which say that EPA still wouldn’t have the resources to implement adequately the laws that govern toxic substances and wastes.

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