Posted on Friday the 3rd of March 2017, by Kerry Lear : Staff Writer
Following the Trump administration’s announcement to boost the defense spending by at least 10%, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) funding on the other-hand is getting cut.
According to E & E News and Politico, Trump officials will be proposing a $2 billion cut to the EPA’s budget.
The new $6.1 billion budget means that a large percentage of the staff, roughly 3,000 would be laid off. This will be the lowest staffing levels since 1980s and the new budget will be the lowest it has been since the 1990s.
It looks as though Trump’s new EPA administrator will approve of the budget cut.
"I think there are some regulations that in the near term need to be rolled back in a very aggressive way," said Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Saturday. "And I think maybe [this] week, you may be hearing about some of those, as it relates to some of these key issues."
However, the EPA cut has to get through Congress.
“The House Appropriations Committee in 2015 sought to cut the agency’s funding by $718 million, an amount far smaller than the White House will propose,” writes The Hill.
“Environmentalists on Monday slammed proposed deep cuts to the agency, indicating a major push from greens and advocacy groups to keep EPA funding as intact as possible. Democrats are also likely to oppose the effort.”
Trump has also requested a formal review by the EPA of Obama’s Clean Water Rule. Signifying that he is keeping his promise to repeal or significantly change the regulation.
The executive order would not completely retract the rule, but the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers have to formally reconsider it. This could then lead to its repeal or a major rewrite of the rule.
“The 2015 regulation, also known as Waters of the United States, asserts federal power over small waterways such as wetlands, headwaters and ponds, requiring Clean Water Act permits for any actions that could harm or pollute them. The Obama administration said 117 million Americans’ drinking water relies on those waterways,” writes The Hill.
Evidently, environmentalists are condemning Trump’s move rejecting the rule.
“Without the Clean Water Rule’s critical protections, innumerable small streams and wetlands that are essential for drinking water supplies, flood protection, and fish and wildlife habitat will be vulnerable to unregulated pollution, dredging and filling,” said Bob Irvin, president of American Rivers.
Currently, the rule is on hold. It was halted in 2015 due to a number of lawsuits challenging it.
Pruitt led one of these lawsuits. The rule would require costly permits and would have a negative impact on agriculture and energy companies.
“The problem with the Obama administration’s [Waters of the United States] rule is that it vastly expands federal jurisdiction into state and local areas of land use,” said an administration official about the 2015 regulation on Monday. “It vastly expands federal jurisdiction over state waters and we think, in looking at it, it could potentially violate the Supreme Court decisions.”
The American Farm Bureau Federation, that has been involved in the legal battles against the current policy, wants to see the rule reworked.
“Our constant message has been that regulators need to go back to the drawing board to get this rule done right,” said Mace Thornton, a spokesman for the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We welcome this action, but realize a lot of work lies ahead to secure a policy that works in a fair and transparent manner.”
With Priutt at the helm of the EPA, it’s safe to say the organization is going to approach the rule with a different perspective.