According to several published reports, the Trump administration has ordered a freeze on all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants to states and local communities until further notice. According to a Huffington Post report, the administration has also told the EPA not to issue any press releases, publish blog posts, or use social media until “further direction” is given.
The EPA awards billions of dollars in grants annually to communities, nonprofits and private contractors. Vox reported that In 2013, the agency awarded $9.6 billion in grants and $1.4 billion in private contracts. A database on the EPA site shows the kinds of grants that have been awarded in the past.
In the solid waste industry, for example, the EPA gave a $396,800 grant to New Mexico Highlands University to study Mechanical Biological Treatment for Solid Waste Management. There were several other small grants related to solid waste management and recycling.
The Trump administration has nominated Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. His Senate confirmation hearing has already taken place, but he’s not yet been confirmed and no committee vote has been set yet.
On Monday, the Trump administration also ordered a hiring freeze across the federal government.
Reuters has more:
Myron Ebell, who headed Trump's EPA transition team until his inauguration last week, said he believed the move was related to Trump's executive order on Monday temporarily halting all government hiring outside the military.
"A freeze at EPA on some other things like grants and contracts appears to have happened," Ebell told Reuters in an email Tuesday morning.
The freeze was first reported by ProPublica on Monday and Ebell said it was similar to what has happened during previous presidential transitions.
Trump has promised to slash U.S. environmental regulation as a way to promote oil drilling and mining. An administration official told Reuters the president would sign two executive actions on Tuesday to advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, a sharp reversal from the Obama administration.