Energy

Congress Bucks Trump, Cuts EPA’s Budget By Only 1 Percent

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Michael Bastasch Contributor
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Congress’s spending bill only cuts the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget a fraction of what the White House called for in its proposal.

The $1.1 trillion spending bill only reduces EPA’s budget 1 percent to $8 billion and requires no staffing cuts. President Donald Trump previously called for cutting EPA’s budget 31 percent and eliminating 3,200 staff positions.

Trump also called for eliminating dozens of global warming programs and pushing some environmental clean-up efforts back to states. The Washington Post noted Monday Congress’s budget prohibits EPA from “changing Clean Water Act exemptions for agriculture” and regulating “lead in ammunition and fishing tackle.”

The budget also bucks Trump on Great Lakes funding. Congress allocated $50 million “to support fishing, boating, hunting and stopping invasive species,” according to the Associated Press. Trump’s budget called for eliminating the EPA program altogether.

The president signed a stop-gap budget deal Friday. Passing the $1.1 trillion budget would fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year in September.

Trump’s EPA budget proposal was highly criticized by environmentalists and Democrats. Even some Republicans seemed hesitant to back it, which sparked speculation lawmakers would not give the president everything he wanted.

Trump faced resistance to his budget from his own administration. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said he would work to preserve grants to states and localities for environmental cleanup.

“Superfund is an area that is absolutely essential,” Pruitt told a gathering of U.S. mayors in early March. “The brownfields program, as well.”

EPA career employees have been some of the most vocal critics of Trump’s proposed cuts. EPA Region 5 employees staged a rally earlier this year and even tried to hire a publicist to make the case for its budget.

The Chicago Sun Times reported EPA officials were considering shutting down the Region 5 office, sparking worries among career staff. But those reports were unsubstantiated and EPA officials pushed back against reports the regional office would be shut down.

EPA Region 5 was responsible for overseeing water quality in Flint, Michigan. The EPA branch came under fire in early 2016 after media reports revealed they knew about lead contamination in Flint’s water supply 7 months before going public.

The EPA gave Flint $100 million to fix its water woes in March. The grant will help pay for new water pipes.

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