Now nearly two months into the administration of President Donald J. Trump, his policy priorities coming into focus.
The appointment of Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a clear signal on deemphasizing policies aimed at stemming human caused climate change.
According to the New York Times that would be its lowest level in 40 years, adjusted for inflation.
But it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the Trump administration with the backing of Congress is pursuing a path that could phase out the EPA in its entirety. Legislation has been introduced in the Republican-controlled Congress to terminate the EPA on December 31, 2018.
And the latest broadside is Trump’s proposed federal budget, which axes the funding for the agency by 31 percent—the biggest cut any agency would face. Overall, the proposal would reduce the EPA’s discretionary budget from $8.2 billion in fiscal year 2017 to $5.7 billion in fiscal year 2018. That would cut about 3,200 positions, about 20 percent of the agency's staff.
According to The Hill:
Trump’s budget slashes funding for industrial waste clean-up through the Superfund program. It also passes along deep cuts to research and development work, the EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Office and state grant programs, and it eliminates funding for region-specific environmental work for areas like the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay.
In all, the budget “eliminates more than 50 EPA programs, saving an additional $347 million” over current levels, and would end 3,200 of the agency’s 15,000 jobs.
According to CNN, "the budget proposes ending funding for international climate change programs, climate change research and the Clean Power Plan, a program meant to fight climate change proposed by President Barack Obama in 2015.."
Mick Mulvaney, Trump's director of the Office of Management and Budget told CNN that "core functions of the EPA can be satisfied with this budget."
John O'Grady, the head of the union that represents EPA employees disagreed, telling CNN "The US EPA is already on a starvation diet, with a bare-bones budget and staffing level. The administration's proposed budget will be akin to taking away the Agency's bread and water."
There are also growing fears that data currently maintained by the EPA could become inaccessible to the public under the Trump administration.
“There is no reason to think the data is safe,” Gretchen Goldman, research director at the Center for Science and Democracy, a program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told The Guardian. “The administration, so far, hasn’t given any indication it will respect science and scientific data, especially when it’s inconvenient to its policy agendas.”
It’s not clear if data from the annual Advancing Sustainable Materials Management Report is among the data that could be removed.
Waste360 recently spoke with several industry experts on their expectations for the Trump administration. The list include Kevin Kraushaar, vice president of government affairs and general counsel for the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA); Rich Goodstein, president for Goodstein & Associates and former lobbyist for NWRA; and Ashley Davis, lobbyist for Republic/West
Front Strategies LLC about what the members of the waste and recycling industry are keeping a close eye on and what possible changes could affect the industry. The trio will be speaking in further detail about these topics during the “How Does a Trump Presidency and New Congress Affect the Waste Industry” session at WasteExpo in May.