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Trump budget slashes EPA funding, opens Alaska refuge to drilling

Trump budget slashes EPA funding, opens Alaska refuge to drilling
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President Trump is proposing deep cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), federal energy research and public lands oversight in his 2018 budget, the White House announced Monday. 

The administration’s budget document also includes a controversial plan to open up Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil drilling, and it proposes drawing down the nation’s oil reserve — two strategies for raising new federal revenues.

Trump’s budget would cut the EPA’s funding by $2.6 billion, or 31.4 percent, the largest cut for any cabinet-level agency.

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In a preliminary budget outline released in March, the White House said those cuts would target the EPA’s regulatory efforts, climate change initiatives, research accounts, industrial clean-up measures, state grants and region-specific environmental work. Taken together, it would shutter 50 agency programs and eliminate 3,200 of the agency’s 15,000 jobs.

The proposal — if enacted — would fulfill a key campaign promise from Trump, who has complained about what he considers excessive federal regulation, and promised to hobble the nation’s environmental regulators.

The White House’s budget also aims to cut the Department of Energy’s (DOE) budget by $1.7 billion, or 5.4 percent. 

Trump officials are proposing an 11.4 percent increase in spending for the DOE office that oversees militarizing nuclear science, coupled with an 18 percent cut across the rest of the department’s budget, which includes programs like energy research and development, national laboratories and radioactive waste disposal.

The Interior Department, responsible for the nation’s national parks, offshore drilling, wildlife refuges and much of its public land, would absorb a cut of $1.4 billion, or 10.9 percent. The cuts are part of a budget plan that would slash $54 billion in domestic discretionary spending next year while raising defense spending by the same amount.

The budget document released on Monday includes a proposal to lease drilling sites in ANWR by 2022, something long opposed by Democrats and environmentalists. Such a plan, if enacted, would raise $1.8 billion by 2027, according to budget documents.

Officials also propose selling half of the oil in the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) by 2027 as a way to raise revenue for the federal government. The budget predicts those sales would raise $16.5 billion over ten years, but lawmakers of both parties have resisted such a plan, arguing it threatens national security.

Trump’s budget is only a proposal; Congress is tasked with writing the appropriations bills that fund the government. Democrats have already howled about the size and scope of the White House’s proposed cuts, and some Republicans have dismissed the budget, as well.