The Trump administration submitted its 2021 budget proposal to Congress on Monday, and folks, it’s great! Just kidding. It’s awful on many fronts, especially when it comes to the climate and environment.
The plan would cut the Energy Department’s budget by 8 percent and the Department of the Interior’s by 16 percent. The Environmental Protection Agency made out particularly badly: For the fourth year in a row, the administration called for massive cuts to the EPA’s budget. This year, Trump proposed cutting it by 26 percent.
“The message from the administration could not be more clear—if we can’t eliminate EPA, then let’s starve it out of business,” Caren Kagan Evans of the Environmental Protection Network said in a statement.
Adjusted for inflation, the cut of $2.4 billion would fund the EPA at a level not seen in 30 years—as in, before the climate crisis was on most Americans’ radar—and leave it with its smallest workforce in 30 years.
That would mean the EPA can do a whole lot less than it’s doing now. The plan would cut the EPA’s budget for scientific research by 44 percent and eliminate all funding for 50 EPA programs. The EPA couldn’t even measure the efficiency of appliances anymore, because the budget would get rid of the Energy Star program which measures the efficiency of electronics and appliances. If the Trump administration has its way, businesses will have to pay a fee to participate in the program. What is with dude’s aversion to efficient products?
The Superfund program, which oversees the cleanup of hazardous waste sites, would also be reduced by 10 percent, even though 34 site cleanups are currently unfunded. That’s the biggest backlog the EPA has seen in 15 years.
The administration has long said that environmental protection should be states’ responsibility, not the federal government’s. But the budget proposes a 28 percent cut in state grant funding. States depend on federal funding for roughly 25 percent of their environmental budgets, and this couldn’t be coming at a worse time: Most states have cut their environmental agencies’ funding and staffing in the past 10 years. Seems like the whole “states’ rights” justification is bullshit?
“Congress should toss this Trump budget into the dustbin of history like they’ve done with the other ones. This president is putting our families and communities at risk by taking direct aim at the environment, public health and energy innovation,” Gina McCarthy, former EPA Administrator and current president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.
Luckily, McCarthy will probably get her wish, because there’s no way the Democrat-controlled House will pass this budget. Let’s just hope our next administration’s priorities are vastly different.