Trump proposes slashing EPA budget by 31 percent

Trump proposes slashing EPA budget by 31 percent

President TrumpDonald John TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit MORE on Monday proposed significant budget cuts to the government agencies responsible for overseeing the nation’s energy and environmental policies, including a 31 percent reduction in spending at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The fiscal 2020 budget proposal to Congress marks the latest effort by the administration to slash funding for science and enforcement programs.

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The document, titled "A Budget for a Better America," requests $31.7 billion for the Department of Energy, an 11 percent decrease from current funding, while the Interior Department would see a 14 percent cut, to $12.5 billion.

The biggest proposed cuts among the three major energy and environment agencies would take place at the EPA, where former energy lobbyist Andrew Wheeler recently took over as the top administrator after being confirmed by the Senate.

The budget for the agency tasked with enforcing environmental regulations would plummet to $6.1 billion, a decrease of 31 percent, under the White House spending blueprint.

“This commonsense budget proposal would support the agency as it continues to work with states, tribes and local governments to protect human health and the environment,” Wheeler said in a statement Monday. “I am proud of the tremendous progress that EPA and its partners have made in cleaning our nation’s air, water and land, and I am looking forward to continuing this progress through FY 2020.”

“Focusing on the core mission makes EPA a better steward of taxpayer dollars and promotes operational efficiencies that enhance the Agency’s Performance,” the White House added in its request to Congress.

Overall, the administration proposes eliminating more than $650 million in programs and activities compared to current funding levels.

The proposed reductions at EPA are in line with the steep cuts — about 25 percent — that the White House's Office of Management and Budget proposed for the agency for fiscal 2019, which began Oct. 1. The year before that, the administration proposed cuts that exceeded 30 percent.

Lawmakers have declined to enact most of Trump's previous funding requests, and it's unlikely that drastic EPA cuts will be enacted by Congress this year, especially since Democrats are now in the majority in the House.

Trump promised on the campaign trail to cut back on enforcement actions at places like the EPA that often hurt the bottom line of the fossil fuel industry and especially coal-fired plants.

The administration's budget proposal for EPA highlights increased water infrastructure projects and efforts to remediate Superfund sites. The agency pointed to a “redundancy” in funding as one of its reasons for the proposed budget cuts.

“A priority area for EPA is to create consistency and certainty for the regulated community and to remove unnecessary or redundant regulations," the agency wrote in its budget brief. "Removing unnecessary regulatory burdens allows the EPA to be a catalyst for economic growth while strengthening our focus on protecting human health and the environment.”

The White House budget request also seeks to slash other key science and renewable areas, including a repeal of the tax credit for electric vehicles. Other cuts to the Department of Energy include well-known clean energy research and development grant programs such as ARPA-E.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is responsible for monitoring weather systems and oceanic temperatures, would see its funding cut under Trump's proposed budget, with the recommended elimination of the Sea Grant, Coastal Zone Management Grants and Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund.

Updated at 1:24 p.m.