White House seeks to cut EPA budget 31
percent as Trump targets regulation
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[March 16, 2017]
By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald
Trump's administration is proposing a 31 percent cut to the
Environmental Protection Agency's budget, eliminating its climate change
programs and trimming back core initiatives aimed at protecting air and
water quality, according to budget documents released on Thursday.
The White House's proposed 2018 budget for the agency comes as Trump
seeks to clear away regulations he claims are hobbling U.S. businesses -
like oil drillers and coal miners. The proposed cuts are a starting
point in negotiations with Congress, and could be tempered.
The proposal would eliminate 3,200 EPA employees, or 19 percent of the
current workforce, and effectively erase former President Barack Obama's
initiatives to combat climate change by cutting funding for the agency's
signature Clean Power Plan aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
It would also eliminate climate change research and international
climate change programs. Together, the cuts to climate change
initiatives at the agency would eliminate some $100 million in spending.
"Consistent with the President's America First Energy Plan, the budget
reorients the EPA's air program to protect the air we breathe without
unduly burdening the American economy," a summary of the agency's
proposed budget said.
Trump has expressed doubts about the science of climate change and has
said the United States can reduce green regulation drastically without
compromising air and water quality.
But the proposed EPA budget cuts would extend well beyond climate
change. It would cut some $427 million to regional pollution cleanup
programs, including in the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay. Funding for
the Superfund program to clean up the nation's most contaminated sites
would drop by $330 million to $762 million.
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President Donald Trump attends a meeting with U.S. House Deputy Whip
team at the East room of the White House in Washington, U.S. March
7, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo
The budget summary said the rationale for the changes is to give
local and state governments - often facing severe budget constraints
themselves - responsibility for such clean-up efforts.
Trump's proposal would also cut the budget for the EPA's enforcement
division, which fines companies for pollution, by 31 percent. It
would axe dozens of other programs including the popular Energy Star
appliance efficiency program aimed at reducing U.S. energy
One area that would see a small boost is for State Revolving Funds,
low-interest loans for investments in water and sanitation
infrastructure. The budget would add $4 million to the funds,
bringing its budget up to $100 million.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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