Will Congress Approve Trump’s Plan To Slash EPA’s Budget?

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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President Donald Trump is pushing for a 24 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget along with reducing the agency’s workforce by 3,000 employees, according to sources.

But Congress controls the budget, not the president.

Top Republican lawmakers who have long criticized EPA overreach were silent on whether they would support a 24 percent cut to the agency’s budget.

“The EPA has really lost its way over the last eight years,” GOP Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso told Politico. “We need to fundamentally change the direction of the EPA to get it back basically focused on the laws that passed Congress, not on what it chooses to do with a mind of its own.”

Democrats are coming out against Trump’s overall budget plan, including cuts to EPA. Environmentalists are lining up behind them, claiming Trump’s budget plan endangers air and water quality.

Trump’s preliminary budget proposal cuts some discretionary spending to pay for a $54 billion increase to the defense budget. EPA is one of the agencies slated to be cut back.

Trump’s budget will have to go through congressional committees, then appropriators.  Lawmakers will have the opportunity to weigh in on EPA cuts, maybe shrinking them to 10 percent or doing away with them altogether depending on if any deals are cut.

Regardless of the process used — reconciliation or regular order — Democrats are likely to oppose deep cuts to EPA’s budget.

“Reckless cuts to the EPA — the agency responsible for protecting public health and our environment — are not what Americans voted for in November,” Democratic Delaware Sen. Tom Carper told Politico.

There may be some cracks in Democratic ranks, however. Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota have broken ranks with their party to support Trump’s energy policies.

Manchin and Heitkamp both voted to confirm EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and voted in favor of a bill repealing federal regulations on energy production.

Sources told E&E News and Politico Monday night the White House planned to cut EPA’s budget 24 percent, or $2 billion. A source also said Trump wants to reduce the agency’s workforce from 15,000 to 12,000 employees.

Trump promised to rein in EPA regulations impacting energy production, specifically pledging to eliminate President Barack Obama’s “Climate Action Plan” and the agency’s “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule.

Trump’s expected to sign an executive order directing EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review WOTUS and repeal parts inconsistent with his administration’s policies.

The president is also expected to sign an executive order for EPA to review the Clean Power Plan regulation on power plants. That order should be issued in the coming days or weeks.

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