The Trump Administration has proposed deep cuts to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) programs that
reduce pollution in Maine, save the lives of Maine people, and strengthen our communities and economy.
As described in our comprehensive new report, Damaging Maine, the Administration’s unprecedented proposed cuts to EPA would cause widespread harm to efforts to protect clean air and water, achieve economic redevelopment at shuttered paper mills, and protect Maine people from toxic hazards.
“EPA funding to Maine serves as a catalyst that supports countless efforts by towns, nonprofit
organizations, businesses, colleges, and citizens who participate in collective efforts to protect Maine’s
precious environmental resources.”
—Pete Didisheim, NRCM Advocacy Director
These cuts would cause serious harm nationwide but would be particularly damaging for states like Maine where our environment and economy are tightly intertwined. The Trump Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget singles out EPA for the deepest cuts of any federal agency, cutting its budget by $2.6 billion (31%), staff by 3,800 (25%), and completely eliminating more than 50 EPA programs. Adjusted for inflation, these cuts would be at levels not seen since the 1970s.
Unprecedented in the 47-year history of the agency, they would cause crippling reductions to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which depends heavily on EPA funding. DEP received $11.4 million in funding from EPA last year, which supported critical environmental programs.
Maine’s Environment: What’s at Risk
The proposed EPA budget cuts would damage virtually all aspects of environmental protection in Maine. It would be especially harmful in the following areas: Clean Water The budget proposes deep cuts in EPA funding that is vital for the protection of Maine’s Damaging Marivers, lakes, streams, and coastal waters. Of particular concern, the budget calls for elimination of the Non-Point Source (NPS) pollution program, which protects lakes from polluted runoff. Maine lakes provide $3.5 billion to Maine’s economy annually and support 52,000 jobs.
Air Pollution and Health Threats
The proposal cuts funding by 30% for programs that help DEP protect Maine people from dangerous air pollution. Because Maine has some of the highest asthma rates in the country, increased air pollution would result in more emergency room visits, hospitalization, and premature deaths.
The EPA budget would eliminate programs that address radon pollution (a leading cause of cancer), and that reduce risks to children from lead-based paint. Elimination of EPA’s lead program would put more Maine children at risk of learning disabilities, lower IQ, speech delay, hyperactivity, aggressive behavior, and other problems caused by lead poisoning.
Redevelopment of Brownfield and Waste Sites
The EPA Brownfield Program would face deep cuts, impeding the ability of Maine communities to secure economic redevelopment of contaminated sites, such as closed paper mills. Cuts in the Superfund program threaten to slow down the cleanup of the former Callahan mine in Brooksville.
The budget eliminates funding for the Leaking Underground Storage Tanks program. These funds help DEP protect groundwater, drinking water, and human health by ensuring that underground petroleum storage is done responsibly. Cuts to this program would lead to more leaks from tanks—and increased contamination of drinking water.
Healthy Beach Program
The Trump budget eliminates funding for beach water quality testing. Eliminating this program puts Maine residents and visitors at risk. Maine beaches receive an estimated 12 million visitors each year, contributing more than $1.6 billion annually to Maine’s economy.
The budget eliminates most EPA climate initiatives, including funding for the Clean Power Plan, international climate programs, and climate research. Maine faces serious risks from climate change. Eliminating climate research will reduce the ability of Maine people to understand and prepare for changes already underway that affect property, businesses, and Maine’s economy.
Scientific Research EPA research would be cut by nearly 50%, which would cripple its ability to provide facts and analysis policymakers, including Maine lawmakers, need to make sound decisions about health and environmental protection.
These cuts would disrupt efforts to understand the impacts of thousands of chemicals currently in the marketplace or under development. “The proposed cuts would hit the Maine DEP like a wrecking ball,” says David Van Wie, former director of DEP’s Bureau of Land & Water Quality. “Protecting the environment doesn’t just happen. It comes about through the work of career professionals like we have at DEP, working with businesses, communities, organizations, and Maine people. These cuts would shatter many of those relationships.”
Lidie Robbins, executive director of 30 Mile River Watershed Association, is especially concerned about Maine’s lakes. “Our lakes are facing significant threats from polluted runoff, development pressures, and climate change. If these EPA cuts are accepted, our ability to protect Maine lakes would be much more difficult.” In addition to Maine’s lakes, other surface waters would be more polluted, and communities with brownfield and Superfund sites, including paper mill towns, may never see those sites cleaned up. Maine people would get sick from air and water pollution, and businesses that depend on clean air and water, and on our current climate (the ski industry, for example, and maple syrup producers) would face growing challenges and possible closures.
EPA funding to Maine serves as a catalyst that supports countless efforts by towns, nonprofit organizations, businesses, colleges, and citizens who participate in collective efforts to protect Maine’s precious environmental resources. The EPA budget cuts would reverberate across Maine by putting existing partnerships, cooperative agreements, matching funds, and informal collaborations in jeopardy. This budget represents an unprecedented and radically irresponsible step by the Trump Administration to dismantle efforts to protect the environment. It would move Maine backward many decades in our efforts to protect the environment, causing harm that would last generations.