President Trump’s fiscal 2019 budget proposal foresees an Environmental Protection Agency significantly smaller in both budget and personnel.
The administration’s proposal, released Monday, would cut EPA’s budget by 23 percent ($8.7 billion to $6.1 billion) and its number of employees by about 13 percent (14,140 to 12,250). The agency’s Budget in Brief document lists 15,408 as the agency’s personnel level, but an EPA union, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), estimates the number at 14,140 currently.
The proposed funding level and the requested 12,250 employees "will enable EPA to support our highest priorities and fulfill our critical mission for the American people,” the Budget in Brief says.
The agency touted the elimination of nearly $600 million for programs and activities “that create unnecessary redundancies or those that have served their purpose and accomplished their mission,” according to a press release.
Among them is a popular program that provides grants to address nonpoint source pollution – known as Section 319 grants. Funded at about $170 million for the current fiscal year, the budget proposes zero funding for fiscal 2019.
The budget proposal follows last year’s in slashing geographic programs designed to address water quality. All but two would get nothing under the Trump proposal: The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative would go from nearly $300 million in the current fiscal year to $30 million, while the Chesapeake Bay program would fall from $72.5 million to $7.3 million.
Overall, those programs – including South Florida, San Francisco Bay and Puget Sound – would be cut from $433 million to $37.3 million, but Congress, which has continued to fund those programs, is not expected to go along. EPA said it would encourage states, local governments and tribes to continue to make progress using their own funds.
Two pesticide grant programs would be cut severely. Pesticides Program Implementation grants would be reduced from $12.6 million to $8.5 million, a 33 percent cut. Those grants “assist states, tribes, and partners with outreach, training, technical assistance, and implementation of various pesticide programs and issues including: pesticide worker safety, protection of endangered species and water sources, bed bug issues, pollinator protection, spray drift reduction, and promotion of environmental stewardship approaches to pesticide use,” the Budget in Brief said.
The other grant program, to help states and tribes “conduct FIFRA compliance inspections, take appropriate enforcement actions, and implement programs for farm worker protection,” would be cut from $17.5 million to $10.5 million, a 41 percent reduction. FIFRA stands for the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Acdt.
“The EPA is grossly underfunded and understaffed,” AFGE said in an analysis of the budget proposal. “State and local governments continue to face fiscal challenges and may continue to face a gap between revenue and spending during the next 44 years.”
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