By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff
Bangor Daily News news story
Maine environmental groups and the state’s Congressional representatives said Monday they have serious concerns about a proposal from President Trump to cut the Environmental Protection Agency budget for next year by 34 percent.
Lisa Pohlmann, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, said Monday that the cut would be even deeper than last year’s “slash and burn proposal, which, thankfully, was firmly rejected by Congress and the American people.”
The proposal would reduce EPA’s budget by $2.8 billion from its 2017 funding level, she said, resulting in the agency’s lowest funding level since the 1970s. The cuts would affect the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, which depends on federal funding for state programs that protect Mainers from air pollution and toxic chemicals; keep the water clean in the state’s rivers, lakes, and streams; and reduce the threat of climate change, she said.
“This says volumes about [Trump’s] disregard for clean air and clean water, his disrespect for the bipartisan efforts that have helped to protect our environment over the past 50 years, and his lack of understanding of the irrefutable reality of climate change,” Pohlmann said in a statement. “Even as we wait for more details to unfold, we can say with certainty that if these cuts are allowed to stand, then the consequences for Maine, the nation, and the world could be dire.”
Jacqueline Guyol, campaign organizer with Environment Maine, said Monday that Trump also proposes to cut the Department of the Interior budget by 16 percent.
“Americans deserve clean air, clean water and protections for the places we love,” Guyol said. “Yet President Trump’s budget would mean more pollution in our rivers and lakes, more days when the air is unsafe to breathe and more drilling in special places. The president’s budget also would mean fewer environmental cops on the beat, less research on renewable energy and fewer protections for our public lands and coasts.”
Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, representing Maine’s 2nd District, said Monday that he supports the president’s proposals to fund national defense and infrastructure improvements. But Poliquin also said he is concerned about “drastic reductions” proposed by Trump for environmental and conservation programs. Among the programs and agencies that would be affected are Acadia National Park, Sea Grant and other National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration programs, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and Maine Healthy Beaches program, Poliquin said.
“As I have said before, we must make sure we maintain support for programs and agencies that serve our families and communities and help protect our environment,” Poliquin said in a prepared statement.
Democratic U.S. Rep Chellie Pingree also criticized Trump’s budget proposal, saying it “spells disaster” and shows that the president is “out of touch.”