EPA budget slashed by $528M to facilitate Trump downsizing effort
By Gary Wilson
The U.S. House of Representatives approved the 2018 budget last week which included a $528 million cut to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
President Trump’s proposed budget targeted EPA for over $2 billion in cuts in an effort to deliver on a campaign pledge to dramatically downsize the agency.
The $528 million cut allows Trump to “reshape the agency’s workforce by providing resources requested to offer buyouts and voluntary separation agreements to employees,” according to a statement on the House Appropriations committee website.
EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has pledged to return the agency to a “back to basics” agenda focused on air, water and public health.
Funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative remains at $300 million. Trump had proposed eliminating all money for the initiative but bi-partisan pushback from the Great Lakes congressional delegation prevailed.
Pruitt recently endorsed the Great Lakes restoration program.
House appropriators facilitated a roll back of the Waters of the United States Rule – known as WOTUS – by including language in the bill to allow the EPA to “withdraw the Waters of the United States rule.”
The budget statement called WOTUS “outdated, unnecessary and potentially harmful.”
WOTUS was put into effect by the Obama administration in an effort to clarify which waters can be regulated under the Clean Water Act. The rule focuses on preventing pollution.
Agriculture interests led by farm bureaus opposed the rule. Nutrient runoff from farms is one of the Great Lakes’ biggest problems evidenced by Lake Erie’s algae blooms.
The Great Lakes Commission says agriculture producers have received more than $100 million since 2010 in Great Lakes restoration funding to focus on conservation practices as previously reported by Great Lakes Now.
The house budget will have to be reconciled with the senate version before being sent to the president.