Showing posts with label Budget Cuts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Budget Cuts. Show all posts

Friday

News: US EPA and Budget Cut

Congress' Failure to Pass Spending Bill Creates Chaos in Agencies
Mar 24, 2011 New York Times

EMILY YEHLE of Greenwire

As federal agencies enter their sixth month without Congress approving a long-term spending bill, some employees are digging into their own pockets for everything from a spiral-bound notebook to an airplane ticket.

Last week, Congress passed the fifth continuing resolution (CR) of this fiscal year, cutting about $6 billion from current spending. Lawmakers say a budget is forthcoming, but concern over a possible shutdown is palpable; 54 Republicans in the House voted against their own party's CR, with many claiming the cuts were not deep enough.

At U.S. EPA, employees say the uncertainty has translated to a decline in morale and a preoccupation with the possibility of staff cuts.

"I am seeing a lot of people frustrated with management and the Agency for not giving more information on what, if any, cuts will be coming and which programs will be impacted," said EPA scientist and union representative Edward Gusterin an email. "A lot of people are fearful of being moved to another position, losing their job or not getting the training they need."

EPA officials have cause to be especially on edge. House Republicans have taken aim at the agency, with many hoping to resuscitate a long-term CR that passed the House last month and would cut EPA's budget by $3 billion. The same bill would cut $1 billion from the budget of the Department of Energy, which Republicans have criticized recently for slow stimulus spending and flawed oversight.

Some Republicans also hope to restrict the administration's authority over key environmental issues, making agencies' future missions even more unclear.

Last week, Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia, the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees Interior Department and EPA funding, said the short-term budget process makes agencies' work "extremely difficult" (E&E Daily, March 14).

"If I were a program manager," Moran said, "I don't know how I would cope with the situation."

Spokesmen from EPA, DOE and Interior declined to comment on how the CR has affected their agencies, currently or in the past. DOE spokeswoman Katinka Podmaniczkysaid in a statement that the department "continues to work with both sides on Capitol Hill to fund the government and keep its vital services and functions operating."

But a 2009 report from the Government Accountability Office provides some insight on how such uncertainty can limit management flexibility and increase employees' workload.

Denise Fantone, a GAO director of strategic issues who worked on the report, said her agency has not studied the current situation. But the report studied data from 1999-2009 to come to some conclusions about the overall effect of continuing resolutions on government operations.

Each agency is affected differently, Fantone said in a recent interview. Regulatory agencies, for example, may collect funding from nongovernment sources and thus feel the effects of a short-term CR less.

But CRs can affect contracts and hiring significantly. Short-term federal budgets can mean short-term agency planning with officials eventually compelled to quickly obligate any remaining funds at the end of a fiscal year. Employees might also have to issue contracts for shorter periods of time, repeating parts of the bidding process under each CR.

Such planning also affects hiring and training, Fantone said.

"Everything gets delayed and pushed back," she said. "You could hire at the end of the year, but that may be out of cycle with training cycle. ... There were certain opportunities that were missed."

EPA employees

John O'Grady, EPA Region 5 president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Council 238, said EPA has limited travel expenditures to 42 percent of the annual budget, causing employees to miss out on training opportunities.

One employee, he said, told him she would be paying her own way to a free training opportunity because she could not get her travel budget approved in time.

"The impact of this budget mess is that employees either miss out on free training that is of benefit to the government or the employees who need the training have to pay for the travel out of their own pocket in order to get the training," O'Grady said.

"While the training is not immediately mandatory for the employee, it is needed if they employee wants to advance in her profession and be on a level playing field with co-workers who have already received the training."

O'Grady said the CR's effects also have trickled down to mundane supplies. After he was told the agency could not afford to buy an 8.5-by-11-inch spiral notebook for air-enforcement inspections, he bought one himself. A handful of file folders, meanwhile, took more than a month to obtain, he said.

The lack of firm deadlines has also put research projects, regulation implementation and contracted jobs on hold, he said.

But the threat of job loss is what mainly haunts employees, some of whom experienced the government shutdown 15 years ago. Agency officials have been silent on their plans for that possibility, much to employees' chagrin.

"I have been getting questions on if employees can take on another job if they are furloughed, will they still have medical, etc.," Guster said, who is EPA Region 2 president of AFGE 238. "This time could be spent on their program work."

Copyright 2011 E&E Publishing. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday

Republicans Ax the Budget $61 Million

The Proposed cuts sound good in theory while actually doing more harm than good. (Using Simple Math anyone can see)

Did the proposed cuts enacted by the House in the wee hours make any one else sick?  If your are not sick yet your Health may soon suffer. 

The newly elected Tea Party Republican Representatives lead the charge in Hand-Cuffing the EPA and their Pollution Control Measures.  The actions sound good in theory, but actually will create more harm than actual help.
   
Coal and Oil Industry backing- the House Republicans cut the only Regulating Agency the Fossil Fuel Industries are forced to conform to- The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).
  • The Republicans Claim: "The People have Spoken" "we are acting in their best interest."
 Who are they kidding?  Here are Dirty Coal Figures that contradict the proposed cuts and show the proposed cuts only benefit the Fossil Fuel Industry and Contribute the Harmful GHG Emissions that are causing- Climate Change and Global Warming.
  • coal's costs in environmental and public health damage would triple the cost of coal-generated electricity ...best estimates of costs from coal's annual air pollution at $188 billion and costs from its contributions to global warming at $62 billion ($250 Billion Dollars Combined) (quote) 
Using Simple Math anyone can see: 
  • $61 Billion Cut from Budget - $250 billion Coal Pollution Costs =  nets a negative-$189 Billion in Pollution Costs from Coal.
The Proposed cuts sound good in theory while actually doing more harm than good.  With Leadership like this it is no wonder why the US Budget is out of control.  When enacted programs net a negative numbers.  Who in their correct mind frame would continue to enact programs that do more harm than good?  Its not hard to figure out that steps should be made to correct the Actions to create a 
positive cash flow.

There are better ways to Balance an "Out of Control" Federal Spending Budget.

I suggest that future budget cuts should be made starting with the Politicians Salaries.

It seem that they want the Constituents to live on less-They should "Lead by Example" and cut their Salaries.

I think turn-a-round is fair play - Ax and Cut the Elected Leaders Salaries.  The majority of them are responsible for the mess we are in now anyway. Scotty 2/20/11
__________________
-Find Your Representatives-Republican or Democrat, and Let Your Voice BE HEARD! Active Participation is Suggested TellMyPolitician

I used to link and contacted: McCaskill, Carnahan, and Blunt- the elected officials for my area. 
___________________
House passes sweeping cuts to domestic programs
(AP) – 2/19/11WASHINGTON —
{emphasis added by Scotty}
Jolted to action by deficit-conscious newcomers, the Republican-controlled House passed sweeping legislation early Saturday to cut $61 billion
  • from hundreds of federal programs and 
  • shelter coal companies
  • oil refiners and 
  • farmers from new government regulations.

The 235-189 vote to send the bill to the Senate was largely along party lines and defied a veto threat from President Barack Obama. It marked the most striking victory to date for the 87-member class of freshmen Republicans elected last fall on a promise to attack the deficit and reduce the reach of government. Three Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the measure.

"The American people have spoken. They demand that Washington stop its out-of-control spending now, not some time in the future," declared freshman Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan.

The $1.2 trillion bill covers every Cabinet agency through the Sept. 30 end of the budget year, imposing severe spending cuts aimed at domestic programs and foreign aid, including aid for schools, nutrition programs, environmental protection, and heating and housing subsidies for the poor.

The measure faces a rough ride in the Democratic-controlled Senate, even before the GOP amendments adopted Thursday, Friday and early Saturday morning pushed the bill further and further to the right on health care and environmental policy. Senate Democrats promise higher spending levels and are poised to defend Obama's health care bill, environmental policies and new efforts to overhaul regulation of the financial services industry.

Changes rammed through the House on Friday and Saturday would shield greenhouse-gas polluters and privately owned colleges from federal regulators, block a plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, and bar the government from shutting down mountaintop mines it believes will cause too much water pollution, siding with business groups over environmental activists and federal regulators in almost every instance.

"This is like a Cliff Notes summary of every issue that the Republicans, the Chamber of Commerce, and the (free market) CATO Institute have pushed for 30 years," said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass. "And they're just going to run them through here."

The gulf between the combatants ensures that difference on the measure won't be resolved soon, requiring a temporary spending bill when a current stopgap measure expires March 4. Senate Democrats and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, are already maneuvering for political advantage in anticipation of talks on a short-term extension that will be needed.

Democrats say Boehner's insistence that any stopgap measure carry spending cuts amounts to an ultimatum that could threaten a government shutdown like the episodes that played to the advantage of former President Bill Clinton in his battles with Republicans in 1995-1996.

The Obama administration upped the ante on Friday, warning that workers who distribute Social Security benefits might be furloughed if the GOP cuts go through.
Across four long days of freewheeling debate, Republicans left their conservative stamp in other ways.

They took several swipes at the year-old health care law, including voting for a ban on federal funding for its implementation. At the behest of anti-abortion lawmakers, they called for an end to federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Republicans awarded the Pentagon an increase of less than 2 percent increase, but domestic agencies would bear slashing cuts of about 12 percent. Such reductions would feel almost twice as deep since they would be spread over the final seven months of the budget year.

Republicans recoiled, however, from some of the most politically difficult cuts to grants to local police and fire departments, special education and economic development. Amtrak supporters easily repelled an attempt to slash its budget.

About the only victory scored by Obama during the week came on a vote Wednesday to cancel $450 million for a costly alternative engine for the Pentagon's next-generation F-35 warplane. It was a top priority of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and passed with the votes of many GOP conservatives who opposed the $3 billion program, more than half of the 87 Republican freshmen elected last fall on promises to cut the budget.

Democrats overwhelmingly oppose the measure and Obama has threatened a veto if it reaches his desk, citing sweeping cuts that he says would endanger the economic recovery.
"The bill will destroy 800,000 American jobs," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., citing a study by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. "It will increase class sizes and take teachers out of the classrooms ... It will jeopardize homeless veterans, make our communities less secure, threaten America's innovation."

The Environmental Protection Agency was singled out by Republicans eager to defend business and industry from numerous agency regulations they say threaten job-creation and the economy. The EPA's budget was slashed by almost one-third, and then its regulatory powers were handcuffed in a series of floor votes.

Proposed federal regulations would be blocked on emission of greenhouse gases, blamed for climate change, and a proposed regulation on mercury emissions from cement kilns would also be stopped. Additionally, the bill also calls for a halt to proposed regulations affecting Internet service providers and privately-owned colleges, victories for the industries that would be affected.

The 359-page bill was shaped beginning to end by the first-term Republicans, many of them elected with tea party backing.

They rejected an initial draft advanced by the leadership and produced by Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., chairman of the Appropriations Committee, saying it did not cut deeply enough.

The revised bill added more reductions, and cut $100 billion from Obama's request for the current year, the amount Republicans had cited in their campaign-season Pledge to America.

But a tea party-backed amendment to slash $22 billion on top of the $60-billion-plus worth of steep cuts already made by the measure failed on Friday almost 2-1.

The heavily subsidized ethanol industry absorbed a pair of defeats Saturday at the hands of it many critics, including Rep. John Sullivan, R-Ohio, who won a vote to block the EPA from approving boosting the amount of ethanol in most gasoline to 15 percent.

On other regulatory issues, foes of the EPA won a 249-176 vote to block the agency from using its regulatory powers to curb greenhouse gases. EPA has already taken steps to regulate global warming pollution from vehicles and the largest factories and industrial plants and is expected to soon roll out rules that target refineries and power plants.

The move to stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse-gas polluters came from Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, who said his congressional district is home to more oil refineries than any other.

"We're in the midst of a massive economic downturn and the last thing we need to do is shoot ourselves in the foot with unnecessary, expensive new regulations that are on business and industry," he said.

Republicans also prevailed in more parochial issues, with Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., winning a close vote to block the government from removing hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River, while Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., won a 230-195 vote to block an EPA plan for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay that would cut pollution from runoff from farms and municipalities throughout the Chesapeake watershed.

And Florida agricultural interests won a vote to block EPA rules issued last year aimed at controlling fertilizer and other pollutants that stoke the spread of algae in the state's waters.
On Thursday, the House voted to block regulations governing the emission of mercury from cement plants and to stop the Federal Communications Commission from enforcing proposed regulations opposed by Verizon and other large Internet Service Providers.

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