The Trump administration is contemplating even deeper cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget than what’s already been reported by news outlets.
President Donald Trump’s budget proposal called for cutting EPA’s budget 25 percent, or $2 billion, and reducing the agency’s workforce 20 percent, or 3,000 employees. EPA global warming programs, grants to environmental groups and state grants are reportedly on the chopping block.
But now the White House is mulling even deeper cuts, a source familiar with budget talks told Axios. The source told Axios “[s]enior Trump officials consider the EPA the leading edge of the administration’s plans to deconstruct the administrative state.”
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has not opposed the overall cuts, but did push back against cuts to environmental cleanup and water infrastructure grants to states. He promised to prioritize those programs.
“Superfund is an area that is absolutely essential,” Pruitt told a gathering of U.S. mayors in early March. “The brownfields program, as well.”
The Superfund and brownfields program both focus on cleaning up contaminated sites. A Daily Caller News Foundation investigation found EPA let such toxic sites sit uncleaned for years, and decades in even some cases.
Trump also proposed cutting EPA’s $700 million program that subsidizes replacing old diesel engines in buses and trucks. The EPA inspector general’s office found the program was “used to replace vehicles that would have been replaced anyway due to normal attrition.”
Trump plans to cut funding for the civilian bureaucracy to fund a $54 billion increase in defense spending. But the big question is if such cuts will make it through Congress.
Some Republican lawmakers did not seem to support a 25 percent cut to EPA’s budget. Democrats came out against the cuts as did public employees unions who rely on government spending.
“This is a declaration of war, a war on the environment,” John O’Grady, an EPA union leader and agency employee, told E&E news in February. “It’s a declaration of war against children with asthma, against women of child-bearing age, against the elderly.”
EPA sent its budget recommendations back to the White House and is waiting for a response from the Office of Management and Budget. This process will repeat until Trump makes a final decision about what his budget proposal should look like.
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