White House Proposes 24% Budget Cut for Environmental Protection Agency

It was reported last week that the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had sent its initial budget numbers to the Environmental Protection Agency for the agency to review. For fiscal year 2018, proposes a 24% cut in the EPA’s $8.14 billion budget and a 20% reduction in its workforce or approximately 3,000 full-time employees. 

OMB gave the EPA a long list of programs, including all climate-related programs, that could be eliminated entirely. The EPA was given until Friday to object to specific proposed cuts and propose alternatives. 

New EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told CNN that he was concerned about OMB’s proposed 30% cut to an array of grants to the states. Approximately half of the EPA’s budget currently consists of state grants. Although President Trump said during the campaign that he wanted to abolish the EPA, he also said that he liked the pass-through grants to the states for environmental infrastructure projects, such as building water treatment facilities. During his confirmation hearing, Pruitt stressed that he wanted the states to play a bigger role in environmental protection.

Although it was not surprising that environmental special interests and former Obama EPA officials immediately attacked the proposed budget cuts as an assault on the environment and a threat to human health, the bigger challenge in passing a 24% cut comes from Republican members of the appropriations committees. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), former chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and EPA, told the Washington Post that he didn’t think Congress would go along: “There’s not that much in the EPA, for crying out loud.”