On May 23rd, the Trump administration released its full fiscal year 2018 budget proposal, continuing its call for significant funding cuts for many EPA programs. Consistent with the framework outlined in the administration’s “skinny” budget issued earlier in March, the proposal would cut EPA’s overall budget by 31.4 percent, reducing overall spending from $8 billion in 2017 to $5.7 billion for 2018. The plan would eliminate approximately 20 percent of the agency’s workforce, reducing the number of staff from over 15,000 to approximately 11,600, a reduction of approximately 3,800 jobs.
The EPA published a notice in the April 13th Federal Register requesting public comments on regulations that may be appropriate for repeal, replacement, or modification. This request follows President Trump’s February 24th Executive Order that, among other things, requires federal agencies to establish a Regulatory Reform Task Force (“Task Force”) to make recommendations targeting specific federal regulations for elimination or modification. Task Forces must seek input from entities affected by federal regulations, including businesses, consumers, non-governmental organizations and trade associations. EPA’s Task Force is requesting comments on regulations that eliminate jobs or stifle their creation, impose costs that exceed benefits, implement Executive Orders or other Presidential directives that have been rescinded or modified, or are otherwise ineffective or outdated. Comments will be accepted through May 15.
The Trump administration released its proposed budget today, calling for steep cuts in funding for U.S. EPA. The plan proposes an EPA budget of $5.7 billion, a reduction of $2.6 billion from current levels, representing a 31 percent cut in overall funding.
EPA has reportedly been instructed by the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) to develop a plan for consolidating its ten (10) regional offices into eight (8) as a way to realize efficiencies and reduce costs. The proposed reduction in the number of regional offices is part of the OMB’s broader budget document for fiscal year 2018, which is reported to propose a 25 percent cut to the agency’s overall budget, a 30 percent reduction in state grants, and a 20 percent cut in personnel. The proposals are preliminary, and President Trump’s official budget outline for FY 2018 is expected to be issued March 16th. The federal fiscal year begins on October 1st.
On March 1, 2017, the Senate confirmed Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior. In grand fashion, Secretary Zinke arrived to his first day of work—at the invitation of the National Park Service (“NPS”) Park Police—riding an Irish sport horse. As Secretary of the Interior, Zinke’s responsibilities will include overseeing the management of national lands, waters and resources through the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”), the NPS, the Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”), the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and several other agencies. Secretary Zinke is a former Navy SEAL and a former Republican Congressman from Montana.
On Friday, February 24, 2017, President Trump signed another Executive Order (EO) aimed at identifying and eliminating federal regulations that burden businesses. Entitled “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” the EO states that “[i]t is the policy of the United States to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people.” Continue Reading Trump Signs Another Executive Order Aimed at Deregulation
On February 2, 2017, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) issued Guidance in order to clarify last week’s Executive Order (EO) regarding the issuance of administrative rules. The EO requires agencies to identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed for every one newly promulgated regulation. The EO also requires the total incremental costs of all new regulations finalized in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 to be offset by eliminating costs associated with repealed regulations. Continue Reading OIRA Issues Guidance on “Two-for-One” Rule
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works voted this morning to recommend confirmation of Scott Pruitt to be EPA Administrator. The vote had been scheduled to take place yesterday, but Committee Democrats boycotted the meeting, preventing a quorum for a vote. The Democrats boycotted the meeting again today, but the Republicans then voted to suspend the Committee’s quorum rules requiring at least two members of the minority party present for a vote. The suspension cleared the way for the Committee to approve Pruitt without any Democrats present.
On January 31, President Trump announced his nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Judge Gorsuch, 49, graduated from Harvard Law School and clerked for former Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White and current Justice Anthony Kennedy. Since 2006, Judge Gorsuch has served on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Colorado.
President Trump continues to focus on streamlining government reviews for large scale infrastructure projects. On January 24, he signed an Executive Order (EO) focused on expediting the permitting process for such projects. In the EO, President Trump stated that “[t]oo often, infrastructure projects in the United States have been routinely and excessively delayed by agency processes and procedures.”