Trump’s budget is a declaration of war on the environment
The Trump team wants to dramatically shrink much of the federal government, but you know what it wants to shrink most of all? Environmental programs. Under the budget plan released by the White House on Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency would take a bigger percentage hit than any other cabinet-level department: Its funding would be slashed by almost a third. That means many of the agency’s programs would experience crippling budget cuts, while others would get wiped out entirely. Environmental programs in other departments would come under the ax as well.
President Trump claims he wants to focus on clean air and water instead of climate change, but this new “skinny budget” proposal suggests otherwise. It not only eliminates climate initiatives, but cuts air and water programs, too.
Here are 13 of the most critical proposed budget cuts:
- Slashed: EPA’s budget would be cut by 31 percent, from $8.2 billion to $5.7 billion — its lowest level in four decades, accounting for inflation.
- Slashed: EPA’s staff would be cut by about 21 percent, taking the workforce from around 15,000 people down to some 11,800.
- Eliminated: International climate change programs run by the State Department and the EPA would end, including payments the U.S. had pledged to make to United Nations climate efforts.
- Eliminated: President Obama’s signature Clean Power Plan, designed to reduce CO2 emissions from power plants, would have all of its funding zeroed out. (Trump is soon expected to issue an executive order calling for the Clean Power Plan to be rewritten.)
- Eliminated: Restoration programs for the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay would be completely wiped out.
- Eliminated: Energy Star, a popular voluntary labeling program for efficient appliances and devices, would lose all federal funding.
- Slashed: The Superfund program for cleanup of contaminated sites would have its funding cut from about $1.1 billion to $762 million. (EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reportedly pushed to maintain funding for toxic site cleanups, but lost that battle.)
- Eliminated: There would be no more funding for long-distance Amtrak trains; federal funds would be focused on Amtrak’s regional service, like in the Northeast Corridor.
- Eliminated: The Department of Agriculture’s water and waste disposal loan and grant program, which gives money to rural governments and tribal nations to improve drinking water systems, would end.
- Eliminated: All funding would be erased for National Historic Sites, which are managed by the National Park Service.
- Eliminated: No funds would go to the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, which improves the energy efficiency of low-income families’ homes, helping them save money on utility bills and prevent carbon pollution.
- Eliminated: The Department of Energy would lose all funding for its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which helps to get innovative energy technologies off the ground, and for the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, which works to develop more advanced, efficient cars.
- Slashed: NASA’s climate research programs would get hit hard, with several missions that study climate change getting the ax.
There’s lots more where that came from. If you want to dig deeper into Trump’s budget plans, the Washington Post has an excellent rundown.
Keep in mind, though: Congress gets to write federal budgets, not the president. Trump has now put forward his proposal, but the House and Senate will do their own thing. Even many Republicans are unnerved by Trump’s proposed cuts, environmental and otherwise. Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, chair of the subcommittee that writes EPA’s budget, said she “cannot support” many of the cuts. And Rep. Leonard Lance, a New Jersey Republican, argued that some of the cuts “are penny wise but pound foolish.” That’s putting it mildly.