Trump’s budget prioritizes polluters over people
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President Trump’s proposed budget aims squarely at America’s health — not just diminishing access to health care, but weakening needed protections from pollution that threatens our health.  I should know — I used to head the agency charged with protecting public health.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s mission is to safeguard our air, water and land, so our kids and future generations can live healthy and prosperous lives. As administrator, I was honored to lead a team of tremendously talented public servants dedicated to that mission. But under Trump’s administration, their work and EPA’s very existence is at risk. 

The White House 2018 budget alarmingly puts polluter profits over protecting people. It places millions of Americans — especially the most vulnerable — at increased risk. It guts EPA’s funding by an unprecedented $2.6 billion, or 31 percent, the largest cut for any cabinet-level agency. That amounts to shuttering more than 50 agency programs, and this come after years of cost-cutting measures under Congress’ sequestration. 

It doesn’t just trim the fat; it cuts through the bone.

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This budget ignores the lessons of history that led to a bipartisan decision by Congress to establish the EPA nearly 50 years ago when rivers burned, smokestacks spewed toxins and cars pumped out black soot. It fails to acknowledge that today our economy has tripled in size while we have reduced conventional air pollutants by 70 percent. And it neglects the fiscal reality that every dollar invested in the underpinning EPA regulations has leveraged $9 in measurable health benefits.

 

While pollution is not as visible as it once was, it certainly didn’t stop in the 1960’s. Too many Americans, especially the most disadvantaged and vulnerable among us, are still exposed to legacy pollutants like lead, mercury and other toxic chemicals. More than 125 million Americans live in areas where the air does not meet health standards. Water and wastewater infrastructure across the U.S. is suffering from age and neglect. 

And today, the challenge of climate change is making it harder to deliver clean air and water and to keep our families safe in the face of more intense storms, droughts, wildfires, sea level rise, heat waves and other impacts. Now is not the time to roll back protections or turn our back on the EPA.

Pollution continues to impact all of us, and it knows no boundaries. That’s why the EPA works with states, tribes and local communities to reduce exposures to pollution that impacts our health and the health of our planet. EPA regional offices and labs lead the way in working with states that have faced systematic budget cuts by providing vital expertise to address some of our most pressing and complicated environmental challenges. 

The National Risk Management Research Laboratory in Cincinnati, for example, directly supports work to manage chemical risks, clean up hazardous waste sites and protect America's drinking water.

When hundreds of thousands of people in cities like Toledo, Ohio, Flint, Mich., Corpus Christie, Texas, and Charleston, W.V., were left without drinking water, EPA’s life-saving work helped restore drinking water and allowed these cities to reopen for business. With severe algal blooms in Lake Erie expected to double in the next century, who will be there to help next time when funding for regional offices are eliminated?

EPA’s research and science budget — including national labs — would drop by 40 percent, and grants to states would drop 45 percent. The president’s EPA budget doesn’t even make room for popular bipartisan programs to restore iconic waterbodies like the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay, Puget Sounds and others that are the engines of regional economies.

Funding for programs to address childhood asthma, lead poisoning, air quality in our schools and even environmental education and climate adaptation efforts are all zeroed out. Did you know that, on average, one in 10 kids have asthma in this country? Make that two in 10 Hispanic children. Yet the president’s budget abandons them. 

The good news is the American people aren’t buying it. They know clean water, air and land keep our children safe and our economy strong. In fact, the overwhelming majority of Americans, including a majority of Trump voters, support policies to combat climate change like the Clean Power Plan, to cut carbon pollution from power plants. And 72 percent say it would be a "bad idea" to cut funding for climate change research and education. They know we must give EPA staff the resources to work with states and local communities to face these threats head-on.

While policy shifts in administrations are expected, this proposed budget is a complete denial of the public health challenges we face, as well as the science and laws that have been the backbone of the EPA for decades. This isn’t “back to basics” — it’s a shift in the EPA’s core mission that prioritizes polluter profits at the expense of the health of Americans. 

Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyLawmakers rally to keep Pruitt from transparently restricting science EPA says it abandoned plan for office in Pruitt’s hometown Overnight Energy: Pruitt blames staff for controversies | Ex-Obama official to head new Harvard climate center | Electric vehicles on road expected to triple MORE was the head of the Environmental Protection Agency from 2013 to 2017 under President Obama. She served as an environmental advisor to five Massachusetts Democratic and Republican administrations and was commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.


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