The Most Reduced Department in the Trump Administration Bolstered from Outside
One of the largest reductions in the U.S. budget proposal would affect the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), prompting environmental groups to come out in defense of the EPA.
One group, the Environmental Advocates of New York, had its executive director, Peter Iwanowicz, criticize the cuts. He said that the plan to cut EPA funding by over 30% would result in $100.0 million less federal aid to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the Health Department, and the Department of State, alongside other agencies, and would force states to cut jobs on top of that.
There are currently about 3000 workers in the DEC, down from roughly 3,800 in 2008. Many of these cuts were imposed during the Great Recession as a means to help reduce budget deficits, but the current economic climate is less pressing. Therefore, many groups feel these cuts are unjustified.
William Cooke, director of government relations for Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE), said that the proposed EPA cuts are “not based on any analysis, but rather an ideological view that our environment, our natural resources, and public health are not a concern of the federal government,” according to Times Union.
Another point that many environmental activists take issue with is that the EPA is currently headed by former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who is a climate-change skeptic. Just this month, the Trump administration culled half of an 18-member EPA scientific advisory board.
Pruitt himself is facing heat after a recent move to deny a petition to ban a pesticide on food crops after pressure from the producer, Dow Chemical Co (NYSE:DOW).
The pesticide, chlorpyrifos, is used on many types of foods but is believed to be damaging to developing fetuses and children.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Environmental Working Group both condemned Pruitt’s decision to reinstate use of the pesticide, believing that children are now at risk due to the move.
This only intensifies the angst in some groups that believe that once the EPA has been neutered by the budget cuts, more situations like this will crop up, with a potentially disastrous outcome for the American people.
“Environmental groups press GOP lawmakers over EPA cuts,” Times Union, June 28, 2017.
“Pediatricians’ group ‘deeply alarmed’ at EPA’s pesticide decision,” The Hill, June 27, 2017.