Congress Stands Up, Trump Backs Down on Budget

Congress Stands Up, Trump Backs Down on Budget

President Trump has backed down from his threat of a Government shutdown and signed the $1.3 trillion government-wide spending bill. The bill does not include Trump’s proposed Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget cut of 31 percent. Instead, the agency will receive $8.1 billion for fiscal year 2018, which is the same level as 2017. This leaves the EPA with the original 7% cut.  Unfortunately, the bill still includes $727 Million for “clean coal” technology development. The positives of the spending bill include:

·         an additional $763 million for various EPA programs related to water infrastructure and to cleaning up polluted Superfund sites.

·         increasing the budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) by $234 million

·         blocking attempts to construct a nuclear storage site at Yucca Mountain

“Congress stood up to Donald Trump and he backed down by signing the spending bill that keeps intact EPA funding. The budget also includes increased funding for water infrastructure, cleaning up Superfund sites, and weather programs through NOAA. This is good news for the environment and the people who work to protect it. This is one small step in the direct direction, given all the rollbacks happening at the federal level. For now, it has prevented possibly devastating cuts to the DEP budget, including rollbacks and layoffs. It’s important to keep EPA funding so that the agency can protect our air and water. It’s also important that the budget continues to fund cleaning up Superfund Sites because New Jersey has more than any other state,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This is a small win for the environment meanwhile, Secretary Pruitt while cutting important programs pays for himself to have first-class flights, extra security, and a sound-proof room. He’s afraid of meeting the people who are suffering from his rollbacks to environmental protections.”

This victory includes removing an attempt to skip regulatory processes and public comment, especially for processes such as repealing Obama’s Clean Power Plan. Two dangerous clauses were included in the bill: one that exempts farms from reporting air pollution and the other to consider wood burning as a “carbon-neutral and renewable electricity source.” Meanwhile, Scott Pruitt is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money for personal expenses, including a $120,000 trip to Italy.

“Trump’s rejected EPA cuts would have cut almost half of grants to state funding. We could see the DEP have to cut staff who are responsible for implementing the Clean Water Act, leaving a huge hole in our budget. With Trump’s cuts, there may be layoffs, closing of parks, and termination of other vital programs. This means New Jersey won’t have funding to keep people and property out of harm’s way or protect us from flooding and pollution during a storm,” said Jeff Tittel. “EPA data already reveals a dramatic decrease in enforcement of polluter fees in its annual enforcement report; over 70% from the Obama Administration.”

New Jersey is also home to EPA’s Edison Lab. The lab conducts testing on chemical, microbiological and biological testing of pollutants in water, soil, sediment and tissue samples. The EPA staff in Edison even helped monitor and clean-up the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

“It’s especially important that EPA funding remains in place for us because New Jersey is the most vulnerable state to climate change. The Trump Administration is trying to gut the EPA because he is initiating a war on science by eliminating the scientists and researchers. By cutting research and development by 55 percent, we will likely see the Edison lab close. This will mean more climate impacts from severe storms, pollution in our air and water, while there is no one to respond chemical spills,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We want to thank the Congresspersons who fought hard to keep EPA funding in place. We know that Trump will keep coming back with more proposed cuts and rollbacks. We will keep fighting back against Trump’s anti-science and anti-environmental agenda.”

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