Details of President Trump’s budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have started leaking out — and they are alarming, to say the least.
The reported budget cuts outline a disturbingly stark vision for the nation’s guardians of human health and the environment, cutting EPA staff by one-fifth and resources by 25 percent.
This budget would reportedly slash funding to restore the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay, for state air quality grants, for environmental justice programs, for safe drinking water grants to states, and much more.
It would also reportedly gut EPA’s Office of Research and Development, the office responsible for guiding the agency’s approach to science. The Office of Research and Development includes vital work like the Safe and Sustainable Water Resources program.
This short-sighted budget proposal would mean dirtier air and water. It would mean more deaths among American citizens, and more asthma attacks among American children.
That’s why reports of a budget proposal this alarming has drawn criticism from all corners of America, from red and blue states alike.
As Jim Brainard, the Republican Mayor of Carmel, Indiana put it:
I haven't met a Republican or Democrat yet that wants to drink dirty water or breathe dirty air.
Members of Congress from both parties, former EPA administrators serving under both Republican and Democratic Presidents, experts from state and local air agencies, environmental justice groups, and others all agree:
William Ruckelshaus, EPA Administrator for Presidents Nixon and Reagan:
A strong and credible regulatory regime is essential to the smooth functioning of our economy… Budget cuts that hurt programs that states now have in place to meet those duties run the risk of returning us to a time when some states offered industries a free lunch, creating havens for polluters. This could leave states with strong environmental programs supported by the public at a competitive disadvantage compared to states with weak programs. In other words, it could lead to a race to the bottom.
Christine Todd Whitman, EPA Administrator for President George W. Bush:
I haven’t ever really seen anything quite like this,” and on the enforcement of environmental rules, “a lot of that enforcement is protecting people.
Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator for President Obama:
This budget is a fantasy if the administration believes it will preserve EPA’s mission to protect public health… It ignores the need to invest in science and to implement the law… It ignores the lessons of history that led to EPA’s creation 46 years ago. And it ignores the American people calling for its continued support … This is actually going to be devastating for the agency’s ability to protect public health.
Trump's proposed cuts to EPA's programs are racist and an attack on EJ communities nationwide.
Dominique Browning, founder of Moms Clean Air Force:
No mom — whether Republican, Democrat, or Independent — voted for air pollution. No mom voted for anything that would endanger her children’s health. We’ve come a long way in cleaning up air pollution, and cutting back EPA’s efforts to enforce the rules that protect us — in favor of polluters’ profits — runs completely against what mothers and fathers across the country want: safe and clean air.
National Association of Clean Air Agencies director Bill Becker:
These cuts, if enacted by Congress, will rip the heart and soul out of the national air pollution control program and jeopardize the health and welfare of tens of millions of people around the country… I can guarantee with certainty that at least in the air pollution area, there will be many more people who will die prematurely and tens of thousands, perhaps millions more, who will get sick unnecessarily… [the cuts will have] a direct and serious adverse health impact on almost every major metropolitan area in the country.
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho):
There’s not that much in the EPA, for crying out loud. (Simpson also noted that Republicans had already reduced EPA’s budget significantly in recent years.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma):
EPA has been cut by over 20 percent in the last few years. The discretionary budget has been lowered pretty dramatically compared to how it was in 2009, and it’s under what [Speaker] Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) thought it would be in his budget.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Delaware):
Reckless cuts to the EPA — the agency responsible for protecting public health and our environment — are not what Americans voted for in November.
Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio):
[W]e’re not going to let that happen, we’re going to continue to oppose cuts to the [Great Lakes Restoration Initiative] and we’re going to mobilize our voting forces to let them know that this isn’t going to stand.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI):
[Proposed cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative are] outrageous … this initiative has been critical to cleaning up our Great Lakes and waterways, restoring fish and wildlife habitats, and fighting invasive species, like Asian carp… I call on President Trump to reverse course on these harmful decisions.
John Stine, Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency:
It would cut across every area of our work… It would hurt the people who look to [our] programs for protecting the quality of their health and the quality of the places they live… We need people to understand that this work is not just … abstract, these are all people and places that are at some level of risk.
Slashing funding for programs that are proven to save lives is a disastrous strategy; cuts to key lung health programs at EPA and HHS make Americans less secure and less protected from known health threats such as the next influenza pandemic and air pollution. Our nation's scientists and doctors will be less likely to find cures and better treatments for the millions of Americans with lung cancer, COPD and asthma.
Clean air, water, and other environmental safeguards are essential to Americans’ lives. The vast majority of Americans across the country support EPA’s mission – a mission the agency has been carrying out under both political parties for almost half a century, and one that that has led to incredible progress in cleaning and protecting our air and waters.