Trump’s EPA plan slashes 25% of bud­get, 3,000 jobs

Cli­mate pro­tec­tion fund­ing would be cut by 70 per­cent.

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By John Flesher, Matthew Daly and Cather­ine Lucey

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion would slash pro­grams aimed at slow­ing cli­mate change and im­prov­ing water safety and air qual­ity, while elim­i­nat­ing thou­sands of jobs, ac­cord­ing to a draft of the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency bud­get pro­posal.

Un­der the ten­ta­tive plan from the Of­fice of Man­age­ment and Bud­get, the agency’s fund­ing would be re­duced by roughly 25 per­cent and about 3,000 jobs would be cut — al­most a fifth of the agency’s staff.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has said he plans to pro­vide bil­lions more dol­lars for the mil­i­tary by cut­ting spend­ing on do­mes­tic agen­cies and de­part­ments. Trump plans to sub­mit his bud­get to Con­gress the week of March 13.

Any fi­nal plan would be sub­ject to con­gres­sional ap­proval, which likely is months away at the ear­li­est.

The EPA and the White House de­clined to com­ment.

The EPA is now un­der the lead­er­ship of Scott Pruitt, a for­mer state at­tor­ney gen­eral for Ok­la­homa who has ques­tioned the sci­en­tific con­sen­sus that hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties are con­tribut­ing to global warm­ing and who joined law­suits against the agency’s emis­sion curbs.

Pro­posed cuts in­clude re­duc­ing the cli­mate pro­tec­tion bud­get by nearly 70 per­cent to $29 mil­lion, the Great Lakes Restora­tion Ini­tia­tive by 97 per­cent to $10 mil­lion and en­vi­ron­men­tal jus­tice pro­grams by 79 per­cent to $1.5 mil­lion.

Also tar­geted for steep spend­ing roll­backs are the agency’s mon­i­tor­ing and en­force­ment of com­pli­ance with en­vi­ron­men­tal laws, as well as re­gional projects in­tended to ben­e­fit de­graded ar­eas such as the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, Puget Sound and the Gulf of Mex­ico.

A pro­gram deal­ing with San Fran­cisco Bay that re­ceived $4.8 mil­lion last year would be elim­i­nated, as would ini­tia­tives for re­duc­ing diesel emis­sions and test water qual­ity at beaches.

For­mer EPA Ad­min­is­tra­tor Gina McCarthy called the pro­posed bud­get “a fan­tasy” that ig­nores the EPA’s mis­sion to pro­tect pub­lic health.

“It shows the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion doesn’t hold the same Amer­i­can val­ues for clean air, clean water and healthy land as the vast ma­jor­ity of its cit­i­zens,” McCarthy said in a state­ment. “Our health comes be­fore the spe­cial in­ter­ests of multi­bil­lion-dol­lar in­dus­tries.”

En­vi­ron­men­tal groups said the pro­posed cuts would threaten thou­sands of jobs and could harm health and safety pro­tec­tions for mil­lions of Amer­i­cans.

The pro­pos­als would es­pe­cially af­fect pro­grams to ad­dress cli­mate change and en­force clean air and water laws, they said.

But the Heart­land In­sti­tute, a con­ser­va­tive think tank, said the pro­posal didn’t go far enough.

“If Don­ald Trump and Scott Pruitt are se­ri­ous about end­ing the na­tional scan­dal that is EPA, they will ac­cept noth­ing less than a 20 per­cent cut this year and make this year’s cut the first step in a five-year plan to re­place the or­ga­ni­za­tion,” said Joseph Bast, the group’s pres­i­dent.

EPA staffers are up­set about the bud­get. A Thurs­day all-hands meet­ing, or­ga­nized to calm staff about the bud­get cuts, only cre­ated more anx­i­ety.

CAR­LOS OSO­RIO / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS 2016

The Flint Water Plant tower is seen last March in Flint, Mich., where a health cri­sis has fol­lowed the dis­cov­ery of lead in city water. Water safety pro­grams at the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency would be dras­ti­cally re­duced un­der an ini­tial Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion bud­get pro­posal for the EPA.

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