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Spending on Environment Cut

It's another lean year for environmental programs. The president proposed cutting spending for the Environmental Protection Agency by more than $300 million, or 4 percent.

The biggest cuts would come out of the program designed to help states and communities update aging sewer systems. This program is important because the crumbling sewer systems allow hundreds of billions of gallons of raw sewage to leak into rivers, lakes and bays every year. The President's request is $200 million below the 2006 budget and $600 million below the funding level from a few years ago.

The officials charged with cleaning up air pollution in states and cities were steamed about a cut of $35 million, or 16 percent, in the funding they receive from the federal government to help them meet federally mandated air quality standards. They said the cuts would be coming at a particularly bad time because states are struggling to meet new stricter air quality standards set by the federal government.

The president did propose spending $50 million on a voluntary program to provide grant money for retrofitting old diesel engines used on a variety of vehicles, including school buses and equipment used in agriculture and at ports.

Likewise, the president's budget request for the Interior Department is $400 million less than the 2006 funding level, or a cut of almost 4 percent. The National Parks Service would take the biggest cut, about $100 million. Most of that money comes from the construction funds that are used for restoring, repairing or replacing facilities at National Parks, such as visitor centers and campgrounds.

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Elizabeth Shogren
Elizabeth Shogren is an NPR News Science Desk correspondent focused on covering environment and energy issues and news.