EPA’s FY2024 Budget Request Emphasizes Continued Focus on Climate, Environmental Justice, and Infrastructure

Executive branch priorities are clearly set out in agency budget requests. While the amount budgeted generally changes when Congress has its say, the original request provides unique insight into how agencies perceive what can and should happen in the next fiscal year.

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) FY2024 Budget in Brief summarizes EPA’s FY2024 budget request. The Budget in Brief notes that it builds upon EPA’s FY2022 – 2026 Strategic Plan, which we discussed here. As we will outline in greater detail below, the Budget in Brief illustrates EPA’s continued focus on issues including climate, environmental justice, and infrastructure.

Budget Request Summary

EPA requests $12.083 billion in funding for FY2024, a 19% increase from enacted 2023 funding. It envisions EPA having 17,077 full-time equivalent personnel, an increase of 1,961 employees from the present. Priorities include:

  • “Addressing the climate crisis by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions” and “building resilience in the face of climate impacts”
  • “Investing … in support of environmental justice”
  • “Ensuring compliance with … civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities” that receive financial assistance from EPA
  • Providing “reliable and safe drinking water.”

We break out funding requests specific to each of these topics below.

Reducing GHG Emissions and Infrastructure Resilience

Absent statutory changes to the Clean Air Act, the Biden Administration’s ability to use regulatory actions to reduce GHG emissions was dealt a significant blow by the US Supreme Court’s West Virginia v. EPA decision last term as we discussed here.

Recent years have seen Congress pass a number of significant statutes allocating funding to the energy space including the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act (AIM), and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). These statutes — most particularly the IRA — provide significant funding in the environmental and energy spaces, something that we’ve discussed repeatedly in the past year. (See here, here, and here.)  

FY2024 emissions- and infrastructure-related priorities include:

  • An additional $64.4 million to implement AIM provisions seeking to phase out GHG-related hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), in part through integrating EPA and US Customs and Border Control databases.
  • An additional $71.5 million, for a total of $181 million, for the Climate Protection Program, including an additional $5 million for EPA to provide administrative support for IRA’s $27 billion GHG Reduction Fund, which we discussed here.
  • An additional $50 million, for a total of $150 million, for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant program, seeking to expand grants and rebates available to reduce emissions from school buses and ports, and in communities disproportionately affected by air quality issues.
  • An additional $62.3 million, for a total of $180 million, for the Federal Vehicle and Fuels Standards and Certifications Program, to support the development of analytical methods, regulations, and analyses related to GHG emissions from light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles. Additionally, in FY2024, EPA will promulgate a final rulemaking to establish new GHG emissions standards for heavy-duty engines and vehicles.
  • $18 million to support tackling climate issues abroad by funding programs in countries with increasing GHG footprints.
  • An additional $45.3 million for climate adaption programs to support the implementation of EPA’s Climate Adaption Action Plan, which is intended to increase human and ecosystem resilience to climate impacts.

Environmental Justice

Because environmental justice (EJ) has been at the forefront of Biden Administration environmental policy, we have discussed it repeatedly in the past year, most recently in relation to $100 million in infrastructure grants and the ongoing development of federal “cumulative impacts” guidance, and how it relates to the current policy focus on ESG

The Biden Administration’s focus on EJ will continue into FY2024, with priorities including:

  • $758 million to various environmental justice and civil rights programs.
  • Justice Funding to advance the Administration’s Justice40 Initiative, which establishes a goal that 40% of the benefits of certain Federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities. (See our prior Justice40 discussion here.)
  • The Budget allocates $350 million for the Superfund Program to remediate contaminated land and natural disasters.
  • $217 million for EPA’s Brownfields Program for technical assistance and grants to clean contaminated land, including $20 million for the new Alaska Contaminated Lands Program.
  • EPA’s National Program Manager of the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights will develop and implement a “cumulative impacts” framework to take cumulative impacts and risks into account in agency decision making.

Civil Rights Compliance

The Biden Administration has made robust use of its civil rights authorities over the past two years including through objecting to the relocation of a Chicago metal recycling facility and in relation to operation of petrochemical facilities in Louisiana. Structurally, in September 2022, EPA announced its creation of an Office of Environmental Justice, External Civil Rights Compliance Office. EPA intends for this focus to continue into FY2024:

  • $165 million for the Compliance Monitoring Program to support enforcement and compliance assurance efforts, with particular focus on incorporating environmental justice considerations into the program’s work.
  • $246 million for civil enforcement to increase enforcement in areas with high levels of pollution.
  • $75 million for the Criminal Enforcement Initiative to target particularly egregious environmental situations, which often affect overburdened and underserved communities.

Drinking Water

EPA requests significant FY2024 funding for drinking-water related issues:

  • $268 million for the Surface Water Protection Program, for the protection, improvement, and restoration of the nation’s surface waters, including coastal waters, rivers, lakes, wetlands, and streams.
  • $219 million for remediation of lead contamination in water.

The focus on lead in communities – both drinking water and sourced from substances like paint – continue efforts from past years. (See here and here.)

Clean Air

EPA also requests significant funding for air quality programs. Requested funding includes:

  • $1.4 billion towards programs tackling air pollution.
  • $100 million towards the development and implementation of a community air quality monitoring and notification program. This program is meant to provide communities with greater exposure to pollution with data relating to real-time conditions, such as smoke pollution from wildfires.
  • $367 million for the Federal Air Quality Management Program.
  • $47.5 million for the Federal Stationary Source Regulations Program to finalize a government review of power plant standards and implement rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
  • $47.6 million for the Reducing Risks from Indoor Air Program for community programs aimed at reducing asthma disparities in disadvantaged communities and programs aimed at reducing lung cancer risk in high-risk, low-income communities.

What Happens Next?

EPA’s proposed budget is forwarded to Congress for its consideration and incorporation into appropriations bills. Once passed and signed by the President, appropriations bills become law and serve as guideposts for agency actions during the relevant fiscal year.

Given the combination of Republican control of the House and Democratic Control of the Senate with the highly politicized nature of discussion surrounding topics like GHG emissions and environmental justice (see here and here), allocated funding will likely differ from EPA’s initial request.

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Members of the firm’s Environmental & Energy Groups regularly monitor state and federal regulations in the environmental and energy space. Stay tuned here for future developments.


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