Budget Deal Slashes State Funding for Environmental Protection, Takes Wolves Off Endangered Species List

The 2010 budget hashed out by Congress and President Obama last week drastically cuts state and local funding for clean air and water and clean-up of industrial sites. It also removes federal protection for Western wolves.

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HOST INTRO: The new federal budget deal signed last week includes deep funding cuts in state and regional environmental programs that could have lasting impacts on local air and water quality, as well as cleanup of old industrial sites.The Allegheny Front's Karen Schaefer reports:

SCHAEFER: The spending deal brokered last week balances most of the 1.6-Billion dollars in cuts to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency on the backs of state agencies and local environmental programs. The new budget slashes funding for water infrastructure improvements by three-quarters, including revolving loan funds that Great Lakes states like Pennsylvania need to upgrade sewage treatment plants. The deal also cuts 10-Million dollars from the fund that helps states meet new federal regulations on air pollution. Clean up of the nation's toxic industrial sites took a 23-Million dollar hit. While many regional environmental programs were also on the chopping block, the National Wildlife Federation's Jeff Skelding says one bright spot was funding for the Great Lakes.

JEFF SKELDING: We came out better than most, not as good as last year, to the tune of 300-million dollars a year, which is still a lot of money for restoration projects to clean up the Lakes.

SCHAEFER: But Skelding worries that next year's budget could sink Great Lakes funding. A rider thrown into this year's budget also takes wolves off the endangered species list in five Western states, sidestepping a recent ruling by a federal judge. The US. Fish and Wildlife Service is now proposing a similar delisting for wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, where the agency says wolf populations have recovered and no longer need federal protection. For the Allegheny Front, I'm Karen Schaefer.