The White House is pushing for significant cuts to EPA programs and staff levels, giving a glimpse of how the Trump administration plans on devolving more control to the states.
The budget plan sent from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to EPA leadership calls for eliminating dozens of programs, including at least 16 that have to do with global warming and implementing former President Barack Obama’s climate agenda.
OMB also requested a 30 percent cut in grants to states and a 20 percent reduction in EPA’s workforce through buy-outs and layoffs. In total, President Donald Trump is calling for a roughly 25 percent cut to EPA’s budget — about $2 billion.
The cuts are laid out in a letter sent by William Becker, the executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA), to his group’s member state and local regulators. Becker said NACAA received the “pass back” budget information sent from OMG to EPA Monday, according to InsideEPA.
Democrats and environmentalists have opposed Trump’s budget cuts, and EPA union leaders are hemming and hawing about cutting staffing levels. Even some Republicans aren’t on board with cutting so much from EPA’s budget.
“They are operating at 1989 staffing levels. So you really want to be sure you are not cutting the meat and muscle with the fat,” Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole, who is on the House Committee on Appropriations, told Inside EPA.
“There’s not that much in the EPA, for crying out loud,” Rep. Mike Simpson, an Idaho Republican, told The Washington Post. Thompson formerly chaired the appropriations committee’s subcommittee dealing with EPA.
What’s unsurprising is Trump wants to get rid of more than a dozen global warming programs at EPA, including funding to implement the Clean Power Plan (CPP)
Trump promised to repeal Obama’s “Climate Action Plan” — the CPP is the linchpin of the former president’s climate agenda. The CPP limits carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing power plants.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt helped lead a coalition of 28 states to overturn the rule while he was attorney general of Oklahoma. Trump is preparing to sign an executive order to rescind the CPP, so it’s not surprising they’d cut funding for its implementation.
WaPo reported EPA’s “Office of Research and Development could lose up to 42 percent of its budget, according to an individual apprised of the administration’s plans.”
The budget plan “eliminates funding altogether for the office’s ‘contribution to the U.S. Global Change Research Program,’” according to WaPo.
One area of concern, however, is the reduction in state and tribal grants for infrastructure and environmental clean-up. The Environmental Council of the States (ECS) sent a letter to EPA and OMB urging them not to cut those programs.
ECS wrote that “cuts to [state and tribal] categorical grants, or to EPA programs operated by states, will have profound impacts on states’ ability to implement the core environmental programs as expected by our citizens.”
More than 90 percent of EPA programs are carried out by state environmental regulators. That’s something that concerns Pruitt, who promised to push back against OMB and preserve grants to states.