The Trump Administration is proposing to slash Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) programs that reduce pollution, save lives, strengthen our economy, and protect our communities and quality of life. The Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Blueprint singles out EPA for the deepest cuts of any domestic agency, cutting its budget by $2.6 billion (31%) and its workforce by 3,200 (21%), and completely eliminating more than 50 EPA programs. These cuts would cause serious harm nationwide and would be particularly damaging for states like Maine where our environment and economy are tightly intertwined. Read more about these impacts to Maine, in NRCM’s report Damaging Maine: The Impacts of Proposed Cuts to the EPA Budget.
The proposed FY18 EPA budget, adjusted for inflation, would be cut to levels not seen since the 1970s. The radical staffing cuts would be unprecedented in the 47-year history of the agency. Because much of EPA’s budget supports initiatives carried out at the state level, the severity of these cuts would cripple the ability of Maine and other states to protect our air, water, and health. In fact, the cuts would set the states up for failure. And failure within individual states would mean more cross-border pollution to neighboring states—a serious concern for Maine.
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) depends greatly on EPA funding. In 2016, DEP received $11.4 million in dedicated grants from EPA, which amounted to more than 20% of the Department’s budget and paid for nearly 100 personnel. This money supports nearly every aspect of DEP’s work: licensing, permitting, enforcement, resource assessment, mitigation, and compliance with the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and hazardous waste and other environmental laws.
Over the past decade, EPA funding has played an increasingly important role in protecting Maine’s environment. As the State has cut DEP’s budget and staffing, a larger proportion of the Department’s personnel has been funded by EPA. As a result, the proposed EPA cuts would decimate DEP staff in some program areas, making it virtually impossible for them to perform their responsibilities. These cuts would harm Maine’s economy, particularly our efforts to redevelop sites with contaminated soils and buildings, would impede the permitting process for new developments, and increase conflict about the protection of Maine’s natural resources.
Without question, these cuts would cause widespread damage. They would make it extremely hard for DEP to ensure that our water is clean, our air is breathable, and our communities and Maine people are protected from toxic hazards.