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The President’s 2012 Budget, Local Governments, and Sustainability

by Art von Lehe, Senior Policy Officer

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The President released his budget proposal to Congress today for FY2012. While today’s proposal will undoubtedly go through many changes given the recent shifts in power in Washington, the announcement provided insight into his priorities for energy, the environment, land use, transportation, and infrastructure.

Of interest to local governments advancing sustainability:


Block Grant Programs

  • Community Development Block Grants reduced
    • A reduction of the overall program by 7.5%
  • Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants unfunded
    • The budget does not call for any funding of this program


Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure

  • Sustainable Communities Partnership maintained
    • The budget calls to sustain the current level of support for the HUD, DOT, EPA Sustainable Communities Partnership - $150 Million
  • Surface Transportation Reauthorization proposal
    • The overall $556 Billion, six-year proposal includes $32 billion competitive grant  programs designed to create incentives for state and local partners to adopt critical reforms in variety of areas, including safety, livability, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and addressing demand management
  • High-speed rail proposed
    • $53 billion for high speed rail funding over six years proposed
  • One million electric vehicles by 2015 proposed
    • $200 million in a competitive grant program to encourage communities to invest in electric vehicle infrastructure
  • State Revolving Fund cuts
    • A proposed reduction of funding totaling $947 million from 2010 levels for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs) budget
  • Green infrastructure capacity building
    • The budget calls for a sustainable water infrastructure policy that focuses on working with states and communities to enhance technical, managerial, and financial capacity including enhancing alternatives analysis to expand “green infrastructure” options and their multiple benefits.



  • EPA authority over greenhouse gasses
    • Of most interest to localities that own power producing utilities, the budget calls for $46 million for the EPA to regulate GHGs through a permitting program to address the causes of climate change.
  • State air programs
    • The budget proposes $306  million in state grant funding from the EPA for air programs



  • 80% “clean energy” by 2035 proposed
    • The President proposed a national “Clean Energy Standard” that includes renewables, natural gas, nuclear and “clean coal.”
    • Part of this standard will include a new initiative to upgrade commercial buildings, municipal buildings, universities and hospitals.
  • A call for the repeal of $4B in fossil fuel subsidies
  • Commercial buildings – 20% more energy efficient in 10 years proposed
    • Leveraging private sector investment through incentives to upgrade buildings.
    • “Race to the Green” incentives to promote voluntary and experimental regulatory reform and other investments at the local level
  • Residential buildings
    • $6B for the President’s proposed “Homestar” program to provide incentives to homeowners for residential upfits
  • Power Saver Loan Guarantee Program
    • Designed to supplement currently hampered local level Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing programs.  The Power Saver pilot program would deploy up to $25 million to participating lenders to support energy efficient mortgages for homeowners up to $25,000. 
  • Energy Star increases
    • Provides an increase of $3M to the Energy Star program, some of which will go to strengthening residential and commercial building programs


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