| WASHINGTON, March 2
WASHINGTON, March 2 The White House is proposing
to slash a quarter of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's
budget, targeting climate-change programs and those designed to
prevent air and water pollution like lead contamination, a
source with direct knowledge of the proposal said on Thursday.
President Donald Trump has long signaled his intention to
reverse former Democratic President Barack Obama's
climate-change initiatives. But the Republican president has
vowed his planned overhaul of green regulation would not
jeopardize America's water and air quality.
The 23-page 2018 budget proposal, which aims to slice the
environmental regulator's overall budget by 25 percent to $6.1
billion and staffing by 20 percent to 12,400 as part of a
broader effort to fund increased military spending, would cut
deeply into programs like climate protection, environmental
justice and enforcement.
The Washington Post was first to report the staff and
overall budget cuts, but the source disclosed new details on the
impact the cuts would have on programs.
The EPA had until Wednesday to report back to the White
House. The agency did not immediately respond to a request for
comment on the budget proposal or its counter proposal.
The proposal, sent to the EPA this week, would cut
into grants that support American Indian tribes and energy
efficiency initiatives, according to the source, who read the
document to Reuters.
State grants for lead cleanup, for example, would be cut 30
percent to $9.8 million. Grants to help native tribes combat
pollution would be cut 30 percent to $45.8 million. An EPA
climate protection program on cutting emissions of greenhouse
gases like methane that contribute to global warming would be
cut 70 percent to $29 million.
The proposal would cut funding for the brownfields
industrial site cleanup program by 42 percent to $14.7 million.
It would also reduce funding for enforcing pollution laws by 11
percent to $153 million.
The budget did not cut state revolving funds for programs,
that Congress tapped last year to provide aid to Flint,
Michigan, for its lead pollution crisis.
All staff at a research program, called Global Change
Research, as well as 37 other programs would be cut under the
The Republican-led Congress would have to approve any EPA
cuts. Some of the cuts are unlikely to pass as they are popular
with both Democrats and Republicans. Congress would be unlikely
to approve a proposal to cut all staff in a diesel emissions
program, for example.
Scott Pruitt, the new head of the EPA, told U.S. mayors on
Thursday he would make a priority of cleanups of industrial and
hazardous waste sites and improving water infrastructure, even
as the White House proposed severe proposed cuts to those
"In this budget discussion that is ongoing with Congress
that is just starting, there are some concerns about some of
these grant programs that EPA has been a part of historically,"
"I want you to know that with the White House and also with
Congress, I am communicating a message that the brownfields
program, the Superfund program and the water infrastructure
grants and state revolving funds are essential to protect," he
A state air pollution expert said the program cuts, if
enacted, would harm some of the people most at risk from
particulate and lead contamination.
"Any of these programs where they've cut air pollution or
water pollution is going to have a direct effect on inner
cities," said Bill Becker, director of the National Association
of Clean Air Agencies.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner and Valerie Volcovici; Editing by
Richard Valdmanis and Peter Cooney)