In the wake of President Trump’s proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget revealing the administration’s clear intentions to hamstring the EPA’s ability to protect the nation’s air, water and land; eliminate its climate change program; and strangle the sound science that underpins good environmental decisions, the Environmental Protection Network released an in-depth analysis of the many ways the budget undercuts public health and environmental protections. The analysis breaks down proposed EPA budget cuts program by program and provides comparisons to previous funding levels.
No community in the country is left unscathed by the proposed 26% reduction in funding from 2017 and the 17% reduction in the EPA workforce, which would bring the agency’s staffing to its lowest level in 34 years. EPA science takes the biggest hit. The FY19 budget proposes to slash the agency’s science funding nearly in half, by a startling 48%. The invaluable research conducted by EPA scientists provides the critical data needed to develop effective pollution standards, measure and monitor pollution and identify emerging threats to people’s health and the environment. Sound science is essential in achieving successful cleanups of contaminated sites and provides the basis for legal actions to protect people’s health and the environment.
“Once again, the Trump Administration has proposed a destructive and wholly inadequate EPA budget clearly designed to prevent the agency from meeting its obligations to protect the health of the American public and the country’s air, water and land,” said Ruth Greenspan Bell, a former EPA senior attorney and EPN President. “These cuts are not just numbers on a spreadsheet. They translate into very real risks to people’s health and environmental protection.”
Demonstrating the hypocrisy of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s disingenuous mantra to “restore power to the states,” the budget calls for a 43% cut in grants for states and tribes that will eviscerate local programs that protect communities against air, water, waste and chemical pollution. On average, state environmental agencies, which have been chronically underfunded by the states for decades, depend on EPA assistance for 25% of their operating budgets.
EPA’s climate change programs are also among the most significant areas to be ground to a halt. At a time when scientists are increasingly able to attribute increased torrential rain, floods, drought and wildfires to global warming, the Trump Administration puts its head in the sand with a budget that virtually eliminates efforts to reduce the harmful effects of greenhouse gas emissions and help states protect communities from the increased risk to lives, health and property posed by a warming climate. Even voluntary programs that help companies; state, tribal and local governments and individuals reduce their carbon footprints and save energy and money are slated for elimination.
In a rerun of President Trump’s FY 2018 budget proposal, this administration has totally decimated or eliminated funding for programs that protect the health of the country’s most vulnerable residents, including:
An 84% reduction in the radon and indoor air protection programs. Radon exposure causes about 21,000 deaths from lung cancer each year.
A 69% reduction in the agency’s Environmental Justice Program, which addresses the unfair and disproportionate impacts of pollution in low income and communities of color.
The shocking elimination of grants to address lead paint and programs to reduce lead risks. Young children are especially vulnerable to lead exposure and can suffer long-term damage to their brains and nervous systems that affect behavior and make it more difficult to learn.
Additionally, the FY19 budget undermines protections of America’s greatest bodies of water, which provide recreational benefits to millions of people, support fish and wildlife, serve as harbors for shipping and transportation, provide jobs and generate billions in economic value. Support for the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes is slashed by 90% and funding to protect and restore the Gulf of Mexico, Long Island Sound, Lake Champlain, Puget Sound, San Francisco Bay, South Florida and the South New England Estuary is wiped out.
After a public outcry, Congress salvaged many programs slated for elimination in the 2018 budget proposal. The Trump FY19 budget proposal puts many back on the chopping block.
“It’s déjà vu all over again with Trump’s proposed 2019 budget and his administration’s continued attempt to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency,” said David Coursen, veteran EPA attorney and EPN Budget Team leader. “The American people support environmental protection and will not accept cuts that put their health and the health of their children at risk. This budget is an ill conceived and mean spirited attempt to undermine the EPA and undercut its ability to safeguard our communities.”
The Environmental Protection Network (EPN) is a non-profit organization of former high-level EPA career staff and confirmation-level appointees with years of institutional memory and on-the-ground experience. Visit our website at www.environmentalprotectionnetwork.org and follow us on Twitter @EnvProtectioNet and Facebook.
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