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.
The proposal follows earlier statements of EPA Director Scott Pruitt and the Trump administration that they will elevate the role of the states in managing environmental programs, and reduce activities of regional offices that are duplicative of state programs. President Trump has also issued two executive orders aimed at reducing regulation (see E.O. 13771, which directs agencies to identify two rules for repeal for every new rule they plan to issue, discussed here, and E.O. 13777, Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda, discussed here.) In addition, President Trump has issued an Executive Order calling for a formal review of the Waters of the US (WOTUS) rule, and a similar Executive Order on the Clean Power Plan is expected to be issued this week.