EPA chief defends grant programs WH is eyeing for cuts

EPA chief defends grant programs WH is eyeing for cuts
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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittUnderstanding the barriers between scientists, the public and the truth Overnight Energy & Environment — Biden makes return to pre-Trump national monument boundaries official Trump-era EPA board member sues over firing MORE says he is urging the White House not to cut funding for several grant programs the Trump administration has targeted. 

The White House is considering cutting a host of programs as part of an effort to slash the EPA’s budget by up to a reported 24 percent. 

Among those programs are grants for clean-up work at brownfields industrial sites and other grant programs for states, which Pruitt said Thursday should be protected. 

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“In this budget discussion that’s ongoing with Congress, it’s just starting, so there are some concerns about some of these grant programs that EPA has been a part of, historically,” Pruitt told a gathering of mayors in Washington on Thursday. 

“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, water infrastructure … are essential to protect.”

Pruitt said funding for the Superfund program, which aims to restore contaminated areas of the country, and clean-up at brownfields, former industrial sites too polluted for redevelopment, are priorities for him and areas of the budget he will aim to protect in spending discussions. 

“I want to be able to share that the investment with the brownfields program needs to be enhanced and strengthened because it truly goes to job creation, benefits to the community and environmental benefits, as well,” he said 

In a short speech to the mayors, Pruitt did not address other programs that are on the Trump administration’s chopping block, including climate change funding.

The reported budget proposal for the EPA — a potential $2 billion cut to the agency’s $8.1 billion budget — received mixed reviews on Capitol Hill this week. As expected, Democrats lambasted the idea, but some key Republicans were skeptical of it as well. 

Pruitt told the mayors he also wants to help localities cut ozone levels to within the limits set by the EPA. He said he will push the White House to include water infrastructure in any construction package the Trump administration might put together this year.