White House proposes 25 percent cut to EPA funding

White House proposes 25 percent cut to EPA funding
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE's budget proposal for fiscal 2019 contains a 25 percent cut to funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The plan, released Monday, calls for the agency's overall funding to drop to $6.1 billion, down from the $8 billion Congress enacted in 2017. 

The proposed reductions are in line with the steep cuts — just over 30 percent — that the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) proposed for the agency for fiscal 2018. In fact, according to the the text of the budget proposal, OMB had originally suggested even deeper cuts this year for the agency — a 34 decrease — but the numbers were raised following Congress's decision last week to raise spending caps.

Lawmakers declined to enact most of Trump's budget proposals last year, and it appears unlikely that the EPA cuts will ever come to pass, given Democratic opposition. 

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There are some notable changes to the new budget proposal for the EPA. The agency proposes to reduce categorical grants by $469 million from the 2017 enacted budget's $1 billion in order to "better focus and prioritize environmental activities on core functions required by Federal environmental laws." Instead, it proposes putting $27 million into what it calls multipurpose grants that would allows states use the funding to set their own environmental priorities. 

The latest budget also continued to ask for cuts to research and development. The proposal would cut the program nearly in half.

However, parts of the budget indicate that the White House listened to critiques from lawmakers and the public following the last budget release.

The new plan would continue to fund two geographic programs at the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes, though still dropping their budgets by 90 percent. Last year the White House budget proposed zeroing out all geographic programs. This year's proposal still suggests cutting all funding to the other seven programs.

Members of Congress pushed back to the administration's steep cuts at EPA, specifically to those geographical programs, which are essential to many states.

"The Mulvaney budget, if enacted, would cripple our collective efforts, halt the progress we are making and undermine the investments that we are making today,” Rep. David JoyceDavid Patrick JoyceThe Hill's 12:30 Report Bipartisan lawmakers agree — marijuana prohibition has failed and it’s time to change the law Cannabis advocates urge lawmakers to tackle tax provision MORE (R-Ohio) said at a House Appropriations Committee subcommittee hearing in June about the elimination of funding for Great Lakes cleanup.

He made it a point to name the budget after White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Trump rips Fed over rate hikes | Dems fume as consumer agency pick refuses to discuss border policy | Senate panel clears Trump IRS nominee Trump pick to head watchdog agency is who consumers need Dems fume as Trump's consumer bureau pick refuses to discuss role in border policy MORE, previously a member of the House.

The new proposals also see the re-emergence of the Energy Star program as a wholly fee-funded program. While the proposal also zeros out the energy saving program, which awards efficient buildings with the sought after title, it instead sets it up as a fee-based system, where product manufacturers seeking the label can pay a "modest fee" for program eligibility.

The EPA's Hazardous Substance Superfund Account account saw perhaps the biggest shift in this year's proposal, in that no cuts were proposed from 2017's $1 billion funding level. Last year, the White House proposed cutting the account down to $762 million. 

EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittZinke left some details off public calendar: report EPA watchdog faults ‘management weaknesses’ in Flint water crisis House completes first half of 2019 spending bills MORE has touted his focus on cleaning up nuclear waste and Superfund sites, announcing just in the past fews months two major plans to remediate sites in Missouri and Texas.