Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: Trump’s budget aims for a 31 percent cut for EPA

TRUMP BUDGET TAKES AIM AT CLIMATE FUNDING: The White House’s budget outline, released on Thursday, proposes a 31 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency as it looks to move away from federal funding for climate change.

The budget blueprint funds the EPA at $5.7 billion next year, down from its current budget of $8.3 billion. The budget “discontinues” $100 million in funding for several climate change programs within the agency, including enforcement for Obama-era climate rules, climate change research and international climate change support.

The proposal also cuts funding for Superfund clean up and, research and development work, the EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Office, state grant programs and region-specific environmental work for areas such as the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay.

The budget “eliminates more than 50 EPA programs, saving an additional $347 million” over current levels, and would end 3,200 of the agency’s 15,000 jobs.  

{mosads}Reaction from officials, lawmakers and interest groups was to be expected. Greens and climate advocates urged Congress — which will ultimately write the spending bills — not to cut the EPA as much as Trump proposes, while fossil fuel groups that commented on the proposal supported it.

Democrats blasted the budget, though the response from the GOP was more muted: some members complained about certain cuts to regional programs, but key appropriators steered clear of tipping their hand on supporting the proposal.

Read more about the EPA’s budget here.   

WH: Climate funding ‘not worth your money:’ The White House justified the budget plan on Thursday as a fulfillment of Trump’s campaign promises, saying climate change research isn’t worth federal funding.

“I think the president was fairly straightforward on that: We’re not spending money on that anymore,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said at a White House briefing on Thursday.

“We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that. We consider that a basic tie to his campaign.”

Read more here.  

What else is cut? The EPA wasn’t the only program to absorb cuts.

The Department of Energy is facing a $1.7 billion cut, or 5.6 percent, in Trump’s budget. The proposal eliminates funding for advanced energy and vehicle research, and “focuses” funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and other energy research agencies.

The Interior Department, which sees a 12 percent cut in the budget, receives higher funding for energy development on public lands. Cuts to the agency focus on abandoned mine cleanup grants and land acquisition programs, as well as a property tax reimbursement program for counties with a lot of federal land.

Of agencies that Trump proposes to cut, NASA’s takes the smallest trim. The budget faces 0.8 percent cut, but its Earth science budget would decrease as Trump proposes ending four observatory missions, including one for carbon dioxide emissions.

Read Trump’s whole budget proposal here.

NEVADANS SLAM YUCCA PLAN: Trump’s plan to restart the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site licensing process in his budget proposal got a bipartisan tongue-lashing by Nevada’s lawmakers.

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who is up for reelection next year in a close race, slammed Yucca as “reckless.”

“As has been stated in the past, Yucca is dead and this reckless proposal will not revive it,” Heller said in a statement.

“Washington needs to understand what Nevada has been saying for years: we will not be the nation’s nuclear waste dump,” he said. “This project was ill-conceived from the beginning and has already flushed billions of taxpayer dollars down the drain.”

Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) joined in, saying the budget “would invest $120 million on the failed Yucca Mountain program while slashing programs that feed, clean, and clothe our homebound seniors and educate our children.”

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) called the plan “naïve,” saying it “would be a colossal waste of taxpayer money.

“Yucca Mountain is nothing more than a hole in the ground and will never be a viable solution for dealing with nuclear waste. Nevadans know this and they have been clear that they do not want a nuclear dumping site in their backyard.”

Heller and Cortez Masto both voted to confirm Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

Read more here.

TRUMP STAFFER LEAVES EPA: A member of the temporary political team leading the EPA for the Trump administration is resigning.

David Schnare, an outspoken climate change doubter who was a frequent adversary of the EPA during the Obama administration, told colleagues in a Wednesday email that he has “been honored to have had the opportunity to serve the Trump administration, but I have completed as much as I am able.”

He told The Hill on Thursday that a number of factors led to his resignation, including that some agency employees want to undermine President Trump’s agenda.

“I wasn’t forced out, and it wasn’t in a tiff,” he said. “I just wasn’t in a position to achieve much anymore.”

Schnare said the vast majority of career staff at the EPA, where he previously worked for decades, are dedicated public servants, but there are a small handful “who were definitely were antagonistic” to Trump and Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Read more here.


Alberta, Canada, unveiled a budget blueprint that relies heavily on oil prices making a rebound, the Globe and Mail reports.

A Michigan proposal would lower the allowable threshold of lead in water, following the Flint water crisis, the Detroit News reports.

The Kemper County carbon-capture coal power plant in Mississippi will miss its expected mid-March date to enter service, WLOX reports.


Check out Thursday’s stories …

-Trump appointee steps down at EPA
-White House: Climate funding is ‘a waste of your money’
-Trump’s NASA budget cuts earth, climate science programs
-GOP senator slams Trump’s Yucca Mountain proposal
-GOP senator: EPA ‘brainwashing our kids’
-Trump budget proposes $4.7B in cuts to USDA
-Trump proposes deep cuts to EPA, federal climate funding

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com; and Devin Henry, dhenry@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama@dhenry@thehill

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