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 stated goal of the proposed budget is to focus the agency on the core areas of infrastructure, air, water quality, and chemical safety, while targeting climate programs for significant reduction or elimination. The proposal would completely eliminate funding for the Green Climate Fund, the Global Climate Change Initiative, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and significantly reduce other monies directed to funding climate efforts. However, the proposal contemplates continued implementation of the Greenhouse Gas Report Rule.
The budget proposal would also eliminate funding for the Clean Power Plan, the Energy Star Program, and specific regional initiatives such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound initiatives. In total, the proposed budget would eliminate more than 50 EPA programs, with projected savings of $347 million over 2017 levels.
Other programmatic areas, while not eliminated, are subject to steep cuts. Federal support for air quality management, including the agency’s air toxics program and grants to states for development of state implementation plans, would be cut by 24 percent. Similarly, the clean air allowance trading program budget would be cut by more than 22 percent.
Funding for EPA research and development (“R&D”) would be cut by 46 percent, while the National Science Foundation R&D budget would be cut by 12 percent. Categorical grants given to state regulatory agencies for enforcement of environmental statutes such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act would be cut by 45 percent.
Superfund cleanup funding would be cut by 30 percent and the federal facilities program would be merged into the Superfund program, as an intended administrative cost-saving measure.
With regard to the enforcement, the stated goal is to allow EPA to maintain its core enforcement oversight role, but to eliminate duplication of enforcement actions carried out by the states, focusing federal enforcement efforts on states without delegated authority. Funding for criminal enforcement would be cut by approximately 17 percent, while funding for civil enforcement would be cut by about 20 percent. Funding for the environmental justice program would be eliminated entirely.
As indicated in earlier posts, the administration’s proposed budget will be presented to Congress, where it will be reviewed by both the House and Senate Budget Committees and the Congressional Budget Office.