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The Trump administration’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is planning major budget cuts, as well as regulatory and scientific overhauls at the agency, according to a new report.
The team’s plan for the EPA identified more than $800 million in planned budget cuts, including to state and tribal assistance grants, climate programs and environmental programs and management, according to Axios.
But Myron Ebell, who led the Trump transition team for the EPA, cautioned that the document in question was an initial briefing document, prepared in October— before Election Day—for the transition team.
Ebell, the head of the environment program at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute and the author of the document, said it is not the transition team’s “Action Plan” for the EPA, which was written much later and identified what the team wants to do with the agency. Ebell declined to provide the Action Plan.
The briefing document devotes significant attention to reforming how the EPA uses science.
“EPA does not use science to guide regulatory policy as much as it uses regulatory policy to steer the science,” the document says, according to Axios. “This is an old problem at EPA. In 1992, a blue-ribbon panel of EPA science advisers that [sic] 'science should not be adjusted to fit policy.' But rather than heed this advice, EPA has greatly increased its science manipulation.”
The document says that the EPA should not fund scientific research, should make all science used for regulatory decisions public and should overhaul its scientific advisory board.
It also lists numerous regulations to cut, including the carbon dioxide rules for new and existing power plants, the Waters of the United States rule, and the Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan.
The extent to which the plan aligns with official Trump administration policies is unclear, as is whether they’re merely wishes of the transition team. On the campaign trail, President Trump promised big changes at the EPA as well as a major regulatory rollback, though he did not mention much of the items in the transition plan.
Many of the major pieces in the document would require approval from Congress. Some parts, like the state and tribal assistance grants, enjoy strong bipartisan support.
Trump has tapped Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s current attorney general and an opponent of major pieces of EPA policy from former President Obama, to lead the agency. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing last week on his nomination but has not yet scheduled a confirmation vote.