EPA budget cut by 31 per cent
On Thursday, the Trump administration proposed a 31 per cent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency, as the White House continues to work towards eliminating climate change programs and trimming initiatives to protect air and water quality.
The proposed EPA budget cuts are a starting point in negotiations with Congress and could be tempered.
If the budget goes through as planned, 19 per cent, or 3,200 EPA employees would be eliminated. About $100 million in spending on research and international programs is also on the chopping block.
The proposed budget would also effectively erase former President Barack Obama’s initiatives to combat climate change by cutting funding for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
“Consistent with the President’s America First Energy Plan, the budget reorients the EPA’s air program to protect the air we breathe without unduly burdening the American economy,” a summary of the agency’s proposed budget said.
Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA does not believe human actions are the lead cause of climate change. As attorney general for Oklahoma, he sued the agency over a dozen times. Pruitt says Congress should determine if CO2 is a pollutant that needs regulation.
Both chambers are led by Republicans and influential committees are headed by lawmakers from oil-producing states.
President Trump also doubts the science of climate change and says the country can reduce green regulations drastically without compromising air and water quality.
Mick Mulvaney, budget director for President Trump told reporters the EPA budget cuts will not affect the agency’s core functions and the EPA will have flexibility in how to implement the cuts.
But, Mulvaney added “The president wants a smaller EPA”.
Under the Obama administration, the EPA faced sharp budget cuts as well. Janet McCabe, former EPA air official said the proposed Trump budget would not only harm the agency’s ability to respond to emergencies, it would hurt day-to-day efforts to keep air and water clean to protect human health.
The budget proposal does not only attack climate change efforts, it also takes away $427 in regional pollution cleanup programs, including the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay.
Also, money targeted for the Superfund program to clean up the most contaminated sites in the United States would drop by $330 million to $762 million.
The White House is hoping to shift responsibility for such massive clean ups on to the states.
The enforcement division, which fines companies for polluting, would be cut by 31 per cent. As well, programs such as the Energy Star appliance efficiency would be axed altogether.
Environmentalists have said the proposed EPA budget would turn back the clock in the US to the 1970’s when smog and water pollution forced lawmakers to strengthen federal clean air and clean water laws.
“Turning back the clock to 1977 will not ‘Make America Great Again’. It will ‘Make America Gag Again,'” Conrad Schneider, the advocacy director at Clean Air Task Force told Reuters.
One area that would see a boost to funding is State Revolving Funds which are low-interest loans for investments in water and sanitation infrastructure. The budget proposes to add $4 million to the funds, increasing its budget to $100 million.
The state of California saw the Trump EPA budget proposal as an opportunity to find qualified employees. As EPA employees headed for work, they were handed recruitment fliers that said “Fight Climate Change, Work for California”.