A budget document obtained by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies shows massive cuts to the funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including 97 percent slashed from monies that pay for keeping the Great Lakes pollution free.
According the MLive News Michigan, the cuts are part of Trump’s 2018 budget proposal, and outlines drastic cuts to the EPA, an agency that has been targeted by Republicans as “job killers.”
The overall budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration would reduce the EPA’s budget by a quarter, and the proposed budget would nearly eliminate the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) from $300 million to $10 million.
Many state and local economies rely heavily on tourism revolving around lakes, rivers, and beaches, to provide both tax revenue and jobs. Michigan’s tourism industry reached record high numbers in 2014 according to a study commissioned by Travel Michigan and conducted by Tourism Economics. Tourism added $22.8 billion to the state economy, generated $2.4 billion in local tax revenue, and more than 214,000 jobs in the industry, according to Michigan State University.
Donald Trump’s proposed EPA cuts won’t just harm the environment, they would devastate our economy.
In September, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported our oceans and the great lakes account for $115 billion in wages and 2.2 percent of America’s jobs.
— Coastal Resilience (@CoastalResilCtr) June 17, 2015
Specific program cuts have also been reported by The Oregonian, which reports that the Trump budget cuts would cut almost 3,000 jobs from the EPA, and slash its budget by $2 billion.
This is an initial budget proposal, and the administration says it will release the final budget the week of March 13. Both the EPA and State Department are expecting major funding cuts in order for the Trump administration to add 10 percent to defense spending.
The EPA will be able to appeal the funding cuts before Trump’s budget proposal is reviewed by Congress, but the agency has yet to make any statements or offer a counter proposal.
Scott Pruitt, Trump’s new EPA head, said that the cuts are not yet final, he is likely to make changes, according to The Oregonian.
Some of the budget cuts are particularly disturbing, including cutting the EPA program for testing and identifying chemicals that work as endocrine disruptors (act as hormones) by 94 percent.
These budget cuts will affect every shore of the country, and have a wide-reaching negative impact.
- Restoration for the country’s second largest estuary, Puget Sound, will be cut from $28 million to $2 million.
- Funding for testing and cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico has been cut by 78 percent.
- Funding for Chesapeake Bay will be cut by 93 percent.
- Funding for the San Francisco Bay had been eliminated entirely.
The $8.7 million a year spent on environment education for children will be cut to only $555,000.
Jordan Lubetkin, spokesman for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition told the Detroit Free Press:
“From what we’re hearing these kinds of cuts to EPA programs and EPA staff are very concerning and very troubling. The scale at which these cuts are being discussed would be devastating.”
The Detroit Free Press also notes that although Republicans hold the majority in both houses of Congress, they don’t have enough votes to approve a budget unilaterally. So even conservatives are not all on board with Trump’s environmental cuts. New Jersey’s tourism industry, for example, relies heavily on the safety and appeal of its shores. According to The Economist, tourism accounted for $36.4 billion in the state’s economy, including $4.6 billion in tax revenue, and over 500,000 jobs in 2014.
Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey addressed a group of concerned constituents in a telephone town hall on Tuesday, saying:
“Whatever the president sends us does have to be scrutinized by the (House Appropriations) committee chair. There is a check and balance. … Congress in the final analysis will decide what these different agencies get.”
A summary of the cuts proposed to the EPA can be found here.
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