Donald Trump released his budget late Monday and, as expected, its massive cuts target life-saving public health and environmental programs and standards. Once again, we’re seeing Trump put polluters ahead of the safety our families. This budget will make our communities sick while lining the pockets of the fossil fuel industry.
This budget’s severe cuts single out our clean air and water and our attempts to fight climate disruption. It’s a lot to dig through, so I narrowed it down to some of the worst of the worst.
Trump’s budget takes an axe to the Environmental Protection Agency - and not just to its core programs. This budget hacks away at grants to states, cutting them by 45 percent. These grants provide essential financial assistance to states and tribes to help them develop and implement environmental programs like pollution clean-up. Trump’s budget also indiscriminately eliminates more than 50 EPA programs, including Energy Star, America’s favorite program for saving money through energy efficiency; the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program, which conducts research on how chemicals affect our bodies; and infrastructure assistance to Alaska Native Villages, which provides sanitation services for rural communities in Alaska.
Funding for key clean air programs would be cut nearly in half, putting children at significantly greater risk of cancer and asthma attacks. Meanwhile, according to the American Lung Association, 125 million Americans already live in counties with unhealthy air quality.
Superfund programs address threats posed by abandoned industrial sites, city landfills, and military depots contaminated by hazardous substances and pollutants that have been linked to higher cancer risks and other diseases; the popular Brownfields program, meanwhile, helps towns and cities redevelop former industrial sites. While EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Trump claim they want to get EPA “back to basics” by keeping the critical Superfund and Brownfield programs, this budget goes in the opposite direction by making enormous and completely counterproductive cuts to both of those programs, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
This budget directly targets communities around the country by completely eliminating all spending on nearly a dozen state and regional programs that provide vital research and protection for treasured watersheds, including programs on the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay basin, Lake Champlain, Long Island Sound, Puget Sound, South Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, and the San Francisco Bay-Delta.
The budget eliminates funding for much of our important international climate leadership, including zeroing out funding for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which coordinates global climate research; the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is the infrastructure for international climate negotiations like the Paris Agreement; the UN Green Climate Fund (GCF); and climate programs at agencies like the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
This budget discontinues funding for the life-saving Clean Power Plan, the first ever national plan to reduce carbon pollution and fight climate disruption. What’s more - it also disbands the Climate Change Adaptation Program, which helps communities tackle the threats of sea level rise and other consequences of the climate crisis.
The budget is devastating for environmental justice programs and initiatives. It proposes eliminating EPA’s environmental justice division, as well as the agency’s lead pollution reduction and radon detection programs. These communities that are disproportionately affected by pollution rely on strong enforcement of environmental protections by EPA, and as one former EPA official put it, “[More cuts] won’t just drastically reduce EPA enforcement, it will bring it to a halt.”
He would also eliminate the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance and Low-income Home Energy Assistance Programs, which are essential safety nets that help millions of low-income Americans stay warm and keep the lights on.
The budget makes deep cuts to climate science research across multiple agencies, including slashing funding for NASA’s world class earth science program by nearly $170 million, eliminating several significant missions in the process. This NASA program gathers essential climate and weather data that are the foundation of domestic and international climate research.
The budget eliminates the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state partnership that supports economic development in thirteen states including my home state of West Virginia, places that need more federal support ― not less ― to diversify our economies as the coal industry declines.
The targets of these budget cuts are actually wildly popular with Americans. For example, by a nearly two-to-one margin, Americans oppose Trump making substantial cuts to the EPA’s budget. According to a recent survey by Quinnipiac University, 72 percent of U.S. voters say it’s a “bad idea” to significantly cut funding for scientific research on the environment and climate change. Meanwhile, two-in-three Americans who voted in the 2016 presidential election (65 percent) said they would oppose any effort by the Trump administration to take away the EPA’s ability to set limits on carbon pollution from power plants.
We will fight this budget every step of the way. Our families and communities deserve strong public health and environmental standards, not rollbacks that will handcuff the agencies charged with protecting our clean air, clean water, and so much more. Join us.