Trump’s EPA Budget in Perspective

An new analysis highlights how harmful the cuts would be.

The Environmental Protection Network, a coalition of former EPA professionals, has issued a detailed analysis of Trump’s proposed EPA budget.  We knew the proposal was bad, but the new analysis shows just how damaging the proposed cuts would be on many different dimensions.  Here are a few key takeaways.

First EPA’s budget is already lean.  Adjusting for inflation, it’s at its lowest point in three decades.  That was before the 1990 Clean Air Act and recent chemical safety regulation.  EPA is also dealing with complex problems such as interstate transport of air pollution that weren’t really on the agenda back then. In the meantime, the country’s population and economy have grown dramatically, so EPA is stretched thinner than it was thirty years ago.  And Trump’s 2-for-1 order triples the amount of work required to issue a new regulation by requiring that two existing regulations be repealed at the same time. To the extent there was “fat” in the EPA budget, much of it is already gone.

Second, the budget will hurt states and industry as well as EPA’s national activities.  In terms of the states, the budget includes a 45% cut in grants to states, tribes, and local governments for pollution control. Given constrains on state budgets, it will be hard for state governments to make up the difference. Moreover, the budget eliminates two of the ten EPA regional offices, reducing the ability of states to work with EPA officials who are familiar with local problems.  In my view, this gives the lie to the claim that the Administration just wants to return regulatory authority to the states. If the Administration was serious about moving more regulation to the states, it would shift current grant programs and some EPA program funding into block grants.  It would also strengthen the regional offices rather than cutting them, to help provide backup and support for state programs. Obviously, that’s not happening — because the goal isn’t to shift control of environmental protection to the states; the goal is just to reduce environmental protection.

Third, the cuts aren’t limited to controversial issues like climate change.  The proposal also butchers programs that address pollution of interstate water bodies, clean up of toxic waste, oversight of contaminated federal property, and ocean protection.

Whatever you might think about Trump’s ability to “make America great again,” one thing is clear: he does have a concrete plan to restore American pollution to its heights.

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Reader Comments

4 Replies to “Trump’s EPA Budget in Perspective”

  1. Can you please list out actionable actions that everyone can do to try and fix this? Besides obviously wait for 4 years for a new president, what can be done?

    1. Dear Grom,
      Good question. When I have a complaint about the EPA and want to take action, I bring the matter to Legal Planet and this seems to work better than anything else I could do as an ordinary citizen. One of our long running complaints has been the persistent waste, fraud and malfeasance throughout EPA which became endemic under the Obama administration. Trump introduced some necessary corrections. A leaner EPA should be a better EPA. Let’s hope so.

    2. (1) support organizations that will take legal action to attack any unlawful things the administration does to harm the environment;
      (2) help to make sure that legislators vote against EPA cuts and cuts in science funding when they vote on the budget later this year, by letting your legislators know that their reelection will depend on it;
      (3) advocate to your federal legislators whenever other bills come up that affect the environment, by letting them know that their reelection will depend on their support;
      (4) help elect congresspeople in 2018 who will support the environment. Objectively, this means members of the Democratic Party.
      (5) educate people about the importance of this issue. That way maybe they will vote more intelligently next time.
      Elections really do matter.

      1. Professor Hecht said;
        “…..(4) help elect congresspeople in 2018 who will support the environment…..”

        Dear Professor Hecht,
        A typical Democratic Party congressional candidate may promise to support the environment by promoting and funding climate mitigation projects while at the same time completely ignoring the following legitimate issues: no verifiable climate results, no performance guarantees, no measurements of climate effects, enormous costs, carbon taxes, credits, solar, wind and so forth.

        Remember this; we have heard that old story over and over again and we know its not true, we are not buying it in 2018. If Democratic Party congressional candidates hope to win by supporting the environment then they need to come up with some new material or something worthwhile.

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About Dan

Dan Farber

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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