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Apr 25 2017
by Diana Pope

What College Students Should Know About Proposed Budget Cuts for the EPA

By Diana Pope - Apr 25 2017
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With Earth Day just passing, people are highly concerned about climate change with environmental protests popping up in major cities.  However, the White House has sent a clear signal that its primary concern is not protecting the environment. The White House has introduced a number of budget cuts in the past few weeks, and the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to face one of the greatest rollbacks in finances. 

The President is proposing to cut the agency's budget by 31 percent and reduce the agency's current funding from $8.1 billion to $5.7 billion. This budget would eliminate key provisions from former President Obama's plans like the Clean Power Plan and would remove more than 50 EPA programs. 

Many officials from the agency are concerned that the proposed cuts will reduce the level of enforcement and regulation around environmental crimes. The budget plan will reduce spending on civil and criminal enforcement by almost sixty percent, and the agency expects to eliminate nearly 200 jobsThe budget cuts may halt the agency's involvement in environmental enforcement due to reductions in staff, inspectors, lawyers, and criminal agents.

The new proposal is designed to implement an equal-opportunity approach to regional cleanup programs, and virtually eliminate all of them. The Great Lakes Restoration Effort, which helps to revive wetland habitats and clean up toxic pollution, will lose more than $400 million in federal funding. 

The President's budget will also scale back the agency's radiation protection program and will cut nearly $3 million in federal funding for radiation projects. 

Along with this, the EPA budget cuts will scale back funding for environmental science research at universities across the country. The College of Environmental Science and Forestry at the State University of New York (SUNY-ESF) is one institution that is bracing for research funding cuts. SUNY relies on various federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation for funding. 

Many Republican lawmakers are planning to push back against the budget cuts; Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska warned President Trump that his budget cuts would "be the first steps in a long process." Various environmental groups are overtly concerned that Trump is seeking lax regulations and endangering Americans' air and water. 

However, the Trump administration is aiming to give states greater jurisdiction over environmental regulation by introducing these budget cuts. North Dakota is one state that has ardently supported the new budget cuts because its state government will have more oversight over environmental regulation. The President is also aiming to bolster more security for Scott Pruitt, and double the staff membership for the agency's infrastructure and operations. 

The President hopes to invest more money into projects involved with infrastructure, transportation and defense by introducing these massive budget cuts. 

Overall, these budget cuts will massively cut down on funding for the Environmental Protection agency. This agency will no longer be able to maintain federal oversight and regulation over key projects involved with radiation protection, environmental crime enforcement, habitat maintenance, and oceanic surveillance. Yet, these new budget cuts are giving states like North Dakota greater jurisdiction and involvement in the environmental protection process. The scale-back of the Environmental Protection Agency has introduced a number of federal financial deficits in areas involved with climate change and environmental protection. 

Lead Image Credit: Karl-Ludwig Poggemann via Flickr Creative Commons

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Diana Pope - University of Tennessee Knoxville

Diana is a political science major who also enjoys journalism, history, and philosophy. She loves writing, researching, and debating about politics. In her free time, she enjoys Grey's anatomy marathons and reading detective fiction.

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