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Environmentalist says US plans 29% EPA cutback

The administration will ask Congress for an austere $961 million budget -- 29 percent less than 1981 levels -- to run the Environmental Protection Agency in 1983, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

''The entire heart and soul of the agency'' will be cut, a federation spokesman said. The new budget which President Reagan sends to Congress Feb. 8 provides for a 24 percent staff reduction.

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The book, ''Fat City,'' which President Reagan distributed to his Cabinet as a handbook on cutting government waste, rates EPA as one of the three best-managed federal agencies, the spokesman said. He also cited opinion polls showing strong support for environmental protection.