On October 1, a new Federal Budget for fiscal year 2018 will go into effect. Despite the respite the EPA has through September 30, the proposal put forth for next year is dismal — if unsurprising.
Trump has consistently said that he wants the EPA cut to the bone. His director, Scott Pruitt, is enmeshed with fossil fuel companies. Mick Mulvaney, budget director, speaking about getting the EPA back to its “core function” stated in response to a question on climate change: “We’re not spending money on that anymore; we consider that to be a waste of your money.”
Representatives on both sides of the aisle have already called the budget “dead on arrival.” However, it’s important to look at the precedent the Trump administration is trying to put forth.
Trump is offering the EPA $5.6 billion dollars, which is the smallest amount allocated to the agency since the late 1970s. It’s a reduction of approximately one-third.
Employees at the department are out of luck as well. The number floated for the chopping block is 3,800 people. The proposed shrinkage of the “enforcement arm” is 40 percent. These are the folks that make sure industries and businesses are in compliance with federal regulations.
Superfund Sites, which are public health hazards, will be slashed 23 percent. This could lead to a slow down or potential halt of clean-ups.
Meanwhile, Pruitt want to push oversight to the states. But the proposed budget going to states, for the purpose of enforcement, has been trimmed by 45 percent.
When I reviewed the 2018 EPA Budget in Brief, I immediately checked the “eliminated programs.” There were plenty, over forty. That didn’t include the five killed “sub-programs.” The verbiage used to explain the decision: “The Administration is committed to creating a leaner, more accountable, less intrusive, and more effective Government.”
When you look at the concrete numbers, in columns, comparing (Fiscal Year) FY 2016 to FY 2018’s Present Budget — it’s beyond concerning. Apparently, the Trump administration doesn’t think that Environmental education outreach and Information exchange for “Children and Other Sensitive Populations” is essential.
Below are five examples of how you and your family may be impacted.
- Environmental Justice “The program provides support to address environmental and human health concerns in minority, low income, Tribal, and other communities. Environmental Justice will continue to be supported in the work done at the EPA, when applicable. EJ work impacting the entire agency will be incorporated into future policy work.” Dismal news. These are the populations most at risk. I keep checking the page of the EJ Mapper, which I wrote about, to see if it has disappeared.
- Endocrine Disruptors “The program develops and validates scientific test methods for the routine, ongoing evaluation of pesticides and other chemicals to determine their potential interference with normal endocrine system function. The ongoing functions of the program can be absorbed into the pesticides program.” With children particularly vulnerable, you have to question why this step was taken and how much attention it will get at the new program.
- Geographic Program: Gulf of Mexico “The program is a partnership of the five Gulf states, Gulf coastal communities, citizens, nongovernmental organizations, and federal agencies working together to initiate cooperative actions by public and private organizations to achieve specific environmental results. The EPA will encourage the five Gulf of Mexico states to continue to make progress in restoring the Gulf of Mexico from within core water programs.” This is an example of “Geographic Programs” that impact areas from the Chesapeake Bay to the San Francisco Bay. State and local entities are “encouraged” to pick up the slack. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has also been canceled.
- Reduce Risks from Indoor Air: “This program addresses indoor environmental asthma triggers, such as secondhand smoke, dust mites, mold, cockroaches and other pests, household pets, and combustion byproducts through a variety of outreach, education, training and guidance activities.” Good luck to the children suffering from asthma, who are often from low-income households. The justification for this cut is that the program is “mature” and states can continue the work independently.
- Eliminated Sub-Programs: There were fifteen 15 voluntary partnership programs that were axed. The suggestion was that they were “successfully administered by non-governmental entities like industry associated and consumer groups.” The Energy Star Certification Program fell into this category.
Americans deserve better. The current administration believes that science creates problems. With a cut in scientific research, America will no longer be a world leader. Rather, we will be in a swift race to the bottom.