Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)  [Printer-friendly version]
September 13, 2006


Lab Closures, Buyouts and Other "Disinvestments" on the Drawing Board

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is preparing for a new even
larger round of budget cuts for the 2008 Fiscal Year, according to an
internal memo released today by Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (PEER). These new cuts are being readied even as
Congress is still reviewing administration proposals to reduce EPA
spending by a record $100 million in FY 2007.

The June 8, 2006 memo from the EPA Chief Financial Officer, Lyons
Gray, to agency leadership, calls for pinpointing "larger savings" as
part of a series of austerities spread over the next 5 years. Slated
for presentation to the President's Office of Management & Budget on
September 11, 2006, the agency's fiscal reduction package includes:

* Closure of Laboratories. The plan calls for closing 10% of EPA's
network of laboratories and research centers in which much of the
agency's basic and applied science concerning pollution monitoring,
toxicological effects and other public health issues is conducted. By
2011, the laboratory network, comprised of approximately 2000
scientists, would shrink by 20%;

* Staff Buy-Outs. The plan gives EPA regions freer hands to carry out
personnel reductions targeted at higher ranking ("GS 12 to GS 15")
scientists, analysts and managers. These cuts would be in addition to
anticipated attrition which should be substantial, with 35% of EPA
staff becoming eligible to retire during the next three years; and

* Reduced State and Tribal Oversight. Additional savings would accrue
from reducing the "regulatory burden" on, and reporting requirements
for, state and tribal environmental agencies.

The memo calls identified reductions "disinvestments" and concedes
that they will undoubtedly have "long-term consequences." Agency
budget cuts now being debated in Congress for the fiscal year that
begins this October 1 have raised concerns that EPA is already losing
its ability to maintain coherent scientific, regulatory or enforcement

"EPA planning is now driven entirely by external fiscal targets
without regard to the effects upon public or environmental health,"
stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "The Bush administration
seeks to 'disinvest' in environmental science, pollution control and
global sustainability."

In his memo, Mr. Gray attempts to sugarcoat cuts by describing scaled-
back operations as "centers of excellence."

"The Bush administration is trying to spin this lobotomy as a diet
plan for a trimmer, shapelier EPA," Ruch added. "In fact, it is a plan
to cut and run from historic standards of environmental protection
under the guise of deficit management."

Read the CFO Memo

Look at multiple studies showing EPA's diminishing capacity

See the debilitating effects that current cuts are already having on
EPA research capabilities.

View how corporate contributions are influencing cash-starved EPA
scientific research.

Revisit ongoing closures of EPA technical libraries and information

Copyright 2006, all rights reserved.