Trump Cuts EPA Budget Again
President Trump’s budget proposal for fiscal 2021 contains a 26 percent cut to funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This would mean the agency is funded only $6.7 billion, rather than $9.1 billion in 2020. The budget would eliminate almost 50 programs, including programs that help fight pollution, radon, and lead. Slashing funding and jobs will directly impact New Jersey by removing oversight and inspections on regulations.
“Trump’s war on the environment continues with his latest proposed budget cuts. Once again, our water, air, cleaning up toxic sites, and climate is under assault in Trump’s budget. He is trying to dismantle fifty years of environmental progress at the EPA. Not only has he rolled back 87 environmental regulations, now he is cutting the budget by 26% so they can’t do their job. They’re rolling back the EPA staffing level to what it was back before the 1990s, despite there being many more environmental issues now. These cuts mean that there will be no one to test our air, water, and clean up toxic sites. said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “EPA staff and budget cuts will hurt our environment and public health.”
The President’s budget would cut federal funding for Superfund Sites by $113 million to $1.1 million. A recent report showed that the EPA has the largest backlog of toxic waste cleanups in 15 years. There are currently 118 Superfund Sites located in New Jersey, such as the Cornell Dubilier site in South Plainfield, the Crown Vantage site in Hunterdon, and the Diamond Alkali site in Newark.
“This year’s proposed budget will cut funding for Superfund sites by 10%. This is alarming in a state like New Jersey because we have 118 Superfund sites, more than any other state. Many of these sites are vulnerable to climate impacts like sea level rise, but they are being capped instead of cleaned up properly. There are already five sites in New Jersey that aren’t getting funding, and these budget cuts will mean that even more sites will continue to not be cleaned up properly,” said Tittel. “These funding cuts will prevent EPA from performing full cleanups. Every day of delay means more pollution from these sites contaminating our environment and endangering public health.”
The budget will mean less funding to states, which will disrupt water quality testing at toxic sites, while stopping efforts to clean up our water supply and retrofit lead pipes. It will mean there will be no money going to resiliency along the shore, restoring the Delaware Bayshore, planting dunes, or upgrading sewer plants. The Chemical Safety Board, an entity that investigates accidents at chemical facilities, will be eliminated.
“Trump is already trying to weaken an Obama-era chemical safety rule, and now he is trying to get rid of the Chemical Safety Advisory Board. This will put more people at risk from dangerous chemical facilities, especially in the case of emergencies or disasters. This is even more important in New Jersey because we have some of the most dangerous chemical facilities. This year’s proposal also could mean more DEP staff and budget cuts. With Trump’s cuts, there may be layoffs, closing of parks, and termination of other vital programs,” said Jeff Tittel. “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.”
The EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund for water and sewer projects could be cut as well. This fund deals with water quality infrastructure projects to improve our clean drinking water. The Interior Department’s budget would also be directed toward fossil fuel infrastructure. $195.5 million would go to the Bureau of Land Management’s oil and gas activities and $18.9 million for coal management program.
“By rolling back enforcement, Trump will turn the EPA into ‘Every Polluters Agency.’ This will mean there will be no one to ensure polluters are not violating the law and we are protected from chemical spills and other accidents. The EPA has failed to introduce important public safety regulations for chemicals like PFAS, and these cuts will only mean more delays. Almost 1.6 million people in New Jersey are exposed to these toxic chemicals that cause cancer and weaken immune systems,” said Jeff Tittel. “We must continue to fight and rally the public to stand behind Senator Menendez and Senator Booker to make sure Trump doesn’t roll back all of these protections and prevent other attacks on the environment.”
Many important EPA programs will be cut entirely. This includes the Climate Change Research and Partnership Programs; the Indoor Air and Radon Programs; the Marine Pollution and National Estuary Programs; the Environmental Education Program; and the Beaches Program. It would also force manufacturers to pay for “Energy Star” labels.
“The Trump Administration is trying to gut the EPA by eliminating the scientists and researchers. Trump already calls climate change a ‘hoax’, and now he is trying to eliminate programs and research that help protect us from climate impacts. By cutting research and development by 45 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 to chemical spills,” said Jeff Tittel. “New Jersey is one of the most vulnerable states to climate change. Trump has a fictional idea that climate change is not real, but this dangerous delusion puts our communities and families at risk.”
At the same time, Trump is planning to cut the Department of Interior Budget. The Bureau of Land Management will lose about $144 million, the Fish and Wildlife Service would lose $581 million compared to their 2020 budget. The recently reauthorized Land and Water Conservation Fund would be slashed by nearly 97 percent.
“These latest budget cut proposals are part of Trump’s ongoing war on the environment. Now more than ever we must work with the Murphy Administration to stand up for clean air, clean water and action on climate change. All of our previous environmental victories are at risk under the Trump Administration. Like we have done in the past, we will come out to protect New Jersey from pollution, the expansion of dirty fuels and offshore drilling as well as mitigate climate impacts,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “It will be up to us to protect our planet from Trump’s attacks. That is why we need to stand together to stop these rollbacks and protect our environment.”