The severe, real-world casualties of Trump's EPA budget cuts

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The Trump White House is proposing to decimate funding for federal environmental protection programs – including safeguards for some of our most vulnerable citizens – crippling the agency charged with keeping America’s air and water safe.

The federal budget, normally a snoozer with thousands of pages full of tiny print and numbers, is suddenly a lightning rod for policymakers and citizens who are waking up to what’s at stake.

The Trump administration wants to hobble the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, leaving only, as the president put it, “little tidbits.” The specifics, contained in internal documents that leaked this week, are startling.

Climate change programs - gone

First, the budget stops all work on President Obama’s landmark Clean Power Plan, which would impose the first-ever limits on carbon emissions from old, coal-fired power plants.

All funding is also stripped for collection of methane emissions data from the oil and gas industry, despite the harm methane does as a highly potent greenhouse gas.

For good measure, the Trump budget plan would then eliminate the EPA’s Global Climate Change Research Program, created in 1990 to coordinate climate research by 13 federal organizations.

On EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s watch, the president wants to cut the agency’s $8 billion budget by an unprecedented 25 percent and slash its 15,000-member workforce by 20 percent. This at an agency that already operates with one of the smallest budgets in the federal government after facing a series of cuts since 2011.

Funding for toxic cleanup – gone

Hundreds of thousands of sites in cities and towns nationwide are polluted by industrial waste containing dangerous chemicals and radioactive waste. The president’s budget proposal would eliminate cleanup funding for communities that count on federal funding to restore such land for redevelopment and new jobs, and to keep their citizens safe.

The president also wants to make deep cuts in EPA’s long-running program that provides funding for local air monitoring – work that lets families and schools know when high pollution levels are dangerous for kids with asthma and for senior citizens. 

And as the Flint water crisis continues to make national news, he would take the budget ax to EPA’s essential work in providing funding for local wastewater treatment facilities, and for infrastructure and testing to assure safe drinking water for communities.

Support for vulnerable Americans - gone

President Trump, who has said that all children deserve equal opportunity, apparently sees no need to help communities most vulnerable to pollution and our changing climate. So far, the following have also been eliminated from his EPA budget:

  • Support for Alaska native villages that are sinking because of climate change
  • Diesel emissions reduction program
  • Environmental education
  • Environmental justice grants and grants to small minority businesses
  • Protection of the iconic waters of Lake Champlain, Long Island Sound, San Francisco Bay and South Florida
  • Grants to states to combat indoor radon

An assault of this scale on the nation’s premier environmental watchdog would be disastrous.

We will know a couple of weeks from now, when the president submits his final budget to Congress, just how extensive the attack on the EPA will be. But what we know so far gives us no illusions.

President Trump is not looking out for Americans or for the environment of our great country.

Elgie Holstein

Elgie Holstein

Elgie is EDF's Senior Director for Strategic Planning.

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Comments

Make America environmentally safe again -- eliminate the Trump
conspiracy!

I hope to God Congress will have more sense than to approve these cuts to the EPA. A stronger military does not require such cuts to our clean water and air. We are killing ourselves and the planet by removing funding to the EPA.

Your God has nothing to do with the Republicans in congress. The teabaggers' money has wanted our pesky Environmental [Protection Agency] done away with for years.

We already have the world's strongest military.

We will be killing ourselves by removing the effectiveness of the EPA.

There's no need to beef up the military budget. We do not have a struggling military infrastructure. What happens when you send more money however into the military portion of the budget is there are places where oversight is eliminated so no one gets to see where the money goes.

The financial cost of these EPA cuts however will be staggering once we have to address the disasters that will result.

Yea, if you believe anything you say. Just like Lake Michigan and the other lakes were carved out from glaciers and they are gone. I could go on with many examples. But what's the point? Who is to blame for that one?

If we are causing the warming, why don't we just cool it off? It's called weather patterns. How many ice ages have there been? Alaska use to be tropical. The EPA is so out of control that they need to be reigned in. I know; I deal with them almost on a monthly basis.

Larry,
The EPA does not need to be reigned in! They keep this planet a safe and healthy place for everyone! Who do you work for that you "deal with them on a monthly basis"?

What do you mean cool it down? We are trying to slow the pattern of warming. Why is it they need to deal with you on a monthly basis ?

...reined in is the word. But since Trump seeks to be king, maybe "reigned" is correct.

You need to learn the difference between weather and climate.

No one disputes that climate is continually changing. However, those changes used to take thousands to millions of years, not decades.

I am very worried about those in office harming the environment. I am concerned for future generations, my grandchildren and the world's youth, as well as the store-house of animals and trees, the very flora and fauna of a world dearly loved by so many. The EPA keeps our air and water safe. Destruction of it destroys all of us.

To all Trump voters: Are you frightened yet?

We need the EPA to live. Trump is a danger to our world. We have to STOP HIS INSANITY NOW!!!!!!!!!!

If Trump and his "Cabinet of Shame" want to wreak the world, we should ship them all to an unchartered island to duke it out where their millions and billions mean nothing but paper. How long do you think they'd last if they had to fight it out for the one coconut left on the tree?

In the meantime, we should get a whole new president and cabinet from all the illegal immigrants and get some REAL work done before the end of the year.....

If only they would decimate it. That would only be a 10% cut.

It's a simple question. Is it more important for you to squeeze every dollar you can get out of eveyone you can or do you care if your children and theirs get to live out their lives? It's that critical and there's no place to go once the balance is tipped. Why are you so stupid?

It's not just a matter of global warming. It's a matter of trashing the earth and killing all life put thereon by the Creator. Care about future generations, not just yourself.

Science tells us that the environment is threatened. We need more funding for the EPA.

Protections for water and air are almost second to none in importance for the health of Earth and its inhabitants. To approve these cuts is worse than reckless. It's suicide.

I can't believe the utter stupidity and greed that are destroying us. Is there no collective wisdom left in our government?!

It's hard for me to get behind this when you say that Obama was this protector of our clean air and water, are you kidding me? He just got rid of coal. He did more damage to this nation than any president in my lifetime.

I could go on and on about the fracking damages and wildlife destruction as the globalist have rushed in while he sold our resources out to the highest bidder.

Please tell me why you were not screaming your heads off over these awful pipelines. The biggest one is running through the biggest and only aquifer that feeds the bread basket of the United States. One spill and it's over.

What about the topping of mountains poisoning the valleys in the east, like Kentucky and Tennessee?
How can we become an important organization if we are not up front fighting for the people?

[Rather than] making this about fighting Trump, let’s start demanding both sides of the isle fix this.
(…)
I voted for Obama, so now we are making this about political battle with Republicans? Of course I want things fixed, but to make this start out about Obama? I am very disappointed. I have never been so sorry I voted for anyone before.

I am done with the lying bunch they have. Both sides corrupted, neither one give a damn, they both line their pockets, and our environment has suffered by their greed.

We have ever city in this nation suffering from poor water safety. Out system is dated and broken, it doesn't give our cities the list of chemicals that every corporation is using so they can test the water quality and stop the corporates from pouring it on.

Our infrastructure is broken and we are living in 3rd world conditions.
(…)
I want Congress to join forces like they did in the 1960s for a new Clean Air and Water Act together, across the aisles, and do it again for a new century. Making it so that every 10 years things need to be reassessed to see if it still effective, and kill what needs to be killed.

Because right now your starting out holding up the EPA which hasn't been doing anything for years except fleecing America. Let’s be honest.

Sincerely,
Callie Reynolds
Lebanon, Oregon

OK, lets be honest. Here's a list of the actions the EPA took until the current idiot got into the White House. They aren't doing nothing. Most of what they do, however, doesn't make it into the news except when they do something big business really doesn't like.

https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/actions-initiated-month

Without a healthy environment how can people be and remain healthy, let alone survive. This is total incompetency and greed. What pathetic leadership we now have!

Sue.

It's bad enough Trump wants to eliminate funding to protect the environment. He also wants to eliminate research and the satellites that observe weather patterns and climate conditions. In other words he doesn't even want to know what's happening. When it comes to global warming, Trump wants to bury his head in the sand while there is still some sand left.

Economic damage can sometimes be repaired eventually. The damage that is being done to the planet cannot be undone.

According to the EPA’s own data, U.S. carbon emissions have decreased nine percent since 2005. These carbon reductions have occurred as a result of technological advancements and free market forces, which will continue. This raises the question of whether burdensome regulations are necessary.

We don't need no stinking clean water! We don't need no stinking clean air!

Yes, Mr. Vernon, indeed regulations are essential. Nine percent CO2 equivalent emissions reductions (in US only) is not going to keep our climate from the calamitous effects from burning fossil fuels. We need to keep that stuff in the ground and move to non-carbon options. Check out Texas' wind industry as an example. Which happened under a GOP governor, no less. (It's all about the $...) http://www.npr.org/2017/03/08/518988840/wind-energy-takes-flight-in-the-...

Our environment is far more important than Trump's policies of destruction!

I can understand why those in the "fly-over states" voted for Trump out of desperation for being left behind by both parties. But their act of desperation will lead to something far worse.