Don’t Cut the EPA Budget

Birmingham, AL, 1972

Some background information:

President Trump’s budget proposal, if passed, will cut the budget for the Environmental Protection Agency by over 30%. Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has said that “”The core functions of the EPA can be satisfied — beyond the core functions — can be satisfied with this budget.”  The EPA, like every government agency, posts its budget openly; decide for yourself. EPA’s annual report, laid out much like an annual report for a large public company, is available online as well.

President Nixon established the EPA in 1970; the order establishing the agency, later ratified by both houses of Congress after public hearings, lays out the agency’s structure and purpose. Here is a synopsis of what EPA is supposed to do:

  • The Water Quality Office shall be responsible for a program of water pollution control designed to enhance and preserve the quality and value of the Nation’s waters, and a program of water hygiene to minimize the health effects of contaminants in drinking water and recreational waters.
  • The Air Pollution Control Office shall be responsible for the conduct of programs for the definition, prevention, and control of air pollution having as their objectives (1) the definition of air quality required to minimize or eliminate deleterious effects of air pollutants and (2) the achievement of a wholesome air environment through development of air pollution control technology.
  • The Pesticides Office shall be responsible for the pesticides activities of the Agency, including establishment of tolerance levels for pesticides’ residues which occur in or on food and the registration of pesticides’ uses for protection of human safety; monitoring of pesticides’ residue levels in foods and portions of the environment; review of pesticide formulations for efficacy and hazard; regulation of sale or use patterns when necessary; checking for compliance with label provisions; research on effects on human health, non-target fish and wildlife and their environments; and establishment of guidelines and standards for analytical methods of residue detection.
  • The Radiation Office shall be responsible for the radiation activities of the Agency, including the development of radiation protection guidelines and environmental radiation standards; surveillance and monitoring of such guidelines and standards as well as of levels of background environmental radiation; evaluation of new or proposed Federal or Federally regulated activities; technical assistance and training programs; and the conduct of a research and development program to support the Agency’s objectives in radiation protection.
  • The Solid Waste Office shall be responsible for the solid waste activities of the Agency, including the conduct of a research, development, and demonstration program for new and improved methods of solid waste disposal; studies directed toward the conservation of natural resources by reducing the amount of waste and unsalvageable materials and by the recovery and utilization of potential resources in solid wastes; and the provision of technical and financial assistance to State and local governments and interstate agencies for planning and providing technical assistance for the development and conduct of solid waste management programs.

Currently the EPA’s total budget is about two-tenths of a percent of the total U.S. budget.

Here’s my letter to my legislators:

A 31% cut in the EPA’s budget is unacceptable. President Trump’s single-minded insistence on military might as the only means of defending our nation is short-sighted and counter to our long-term national interest.

Lead in our water ruins children’s brains, robbing us of contributions they should be making as adults. Pollution in our air increases health care costs and disables our citizens, diverting financial resources from other uses and robbing us of the contributions of those citizens. Pesticides in our farmland and food interfere with the natural food chain and degrade our ability to feed ourselves over time.

Perhaps President Trump has forgotten why President Nixon established the EPA. I remember smog warnings, Love Canal, burning rivers, eagles on the verge of extinction because DDT make their eggshells thin. Do you know that we used to burn used automobile batteries?

In the interest of our long-term national security, I urge you to reject this insanity. We should be tripling the EPA’s budget, not cutting it.

Thank you for your attention.

Posted in Budget, Environment, Vision for America.