Bill Name: FY 2018 Federal Budget
House: House and Senate
Where is it now? Submitted
Stake Holders: Environmental scientists, EPA staff, National Park Service, public health officials, public at large
Why do we care? The Trump Administration released a budget that will be welcomed by polluters slashing EPA’s ability to protect the environment and the public’s health. In order to fund a $54 billion increase in the military, many agency budgets are being cut, but the EPA stands out as the worst with a budget reduction of 31%, $2.6 billion. More than 3,200 EPA staff will lose their jobs. The Environmental Justice Department, a program that protects low-income communities from environmental hazards, is zeroed out. The Superfund for cleaning up toxic sites is eliminated. Almost no funding is left for air quality programs, clean energy or climate change research. Funding for enforcement of regulations or for emergencies as in Flint, Michigan, are also severely cut. The Washington Post says, “Almost no other federal department or agency is as much in the crosshairs as the EPA. Of all the destructive policies of Trump’s administration, the crusade against the environment may end up being the most disastrous – and the most irreversible.”
How does it meet our stated objective? Eliminating regulations, eliminating the EPA and catering to Big Oil were campaign promises made by Trump on the campaign trail. Like many of his promises, resistance is demanded by common sense, science and public health.
Local impact: In Massachusetts, the Sea Grant Fund that supports the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), an independent institution focusing on climate change, would be eliminated. The Boston Globe reported (3/17/17) that Sen. Markey said, “He [Trump] is going to get the federal government out of the business of research, climate change and innovation, and wait for the private sector or the states to fill in the gaps.” There will also be a cut in the Community Block Grant to Massachusetts which provides many social services but also funds city efforts to clean up polluted sites.
Possible Action: Write or call Senators Warren & Markey, and Congressman Keating . Contact House Budget Chair, Diane Black (R-TN). Contact Bernie Sanders, Angus King, Tim Kane and Sheldon Whitehouse, all on the Senate Budget Committee. Contact local organizations such as the Association to Preserve Cape Cod, the Provincetown Center for Coastal Research and WHOI to ask how LCI could best help. An environmental event in Provincetown is being planned for April 29 in which LCI can participate and promote to members.
NOTE: HR 861 to terminate the EPA was included in a recent LCI alert but maybe should be repeated this week.
Sources: Earth Justice newsletter 3/17/17; Sheldon Whitehouse newsletter (D-RI); Boston Globe 3/17/17; Food & Water Watch, Democrats.com 3/17/17.