Statement of Lisa Pohlmann, Executive Director, Natural Resources Council of Maine
“President Trump today released an irresponsible EPA budget that threatens the health of Maine people, our environment, and our economy. In proposing to cut EPA’s funding by 31% and personnel by 3,200, and eliminate more than 50 programs, President Trump has declared war on clean air, clean water, and public health.”
“We strongly urge Maine’s Congressional delegation to treat this budget as ‘dead on arrival,’ because of its dire consequences for Maine. It will literally kill some of our ecosystems where EPA grant funding provides vital restoration work; send more of our asthmatic kids to emergency rooms, struggling to breathe; create more polluted waters that will be off-limits to swimming, fishing, and drinking; and spur more climate-disrupting pollution that will escalate the threats to our lobstering, fishing, and coastal communities. The list of potential damages goes on and on.”
“With each passing day, President Trump reveals how little he cares about the health of Maine people and our economy. Such drastic cuts to the EPA will cripple Maine Department of Environmental Protection efforts to protect people from air pollution and toxic chemicals in our environment; help keep the water in our rivers, lakes, and streams clean; and take the necessary actions to reduce the threat of climate change.”
“The President has singled out EPA for some of the deepest cuts in the entire federal budget. This says volumes about his disregard for clean air and clean water, his disrespect for the bipartisan efforts to protect our environment over the past 50 years, and his lack of understanding of the irrefutable reality of climate change.
“Particularly alarming is the Trump Administration’s intention to eliminate funding for the Clean Power Plan, climate change research, and essentially all other EPA climate programs. As the budget itself says: ‘Discontinues funding for the Clean Power Plan, international climate change programs, climate change research and partnership programs, and related efforts.’
These proposals demonstrate that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt truly is a climate denier and is determined to do the bidding of the fossil fuel industry. If these cuts are allowed to stand, then the consequences for Maine, the nation, and the world could be extremely dire.
“Maine is especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels flooding coastal towns, smog from upwind states fueling our high asthma rates, fast-warming waters in the Gulf of Maine harming our fisheries, and warmer weather challenging our economy from skiing to maple syrup to lobstering.
“We need upwind polluting states to do their part and clean up, because their emissions pollute Maine’s air and harm our health and climate. That’s why we need the federal protections that President Trump wants to roll back.”
President Trump’s FY18 budget proposes even deeper cuts in EPA’s budget than what his administration’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) suggested two weeks ago. A document leaked to the media showed that OMB proposed cutting EPA’s budget by $2 billion (25%) and personnel by 2,045 (21%). Today’s budget proposes a $2.6 billion cut (31%) and massive layoffs of 3,200 EPA personnel.
These cuts would have across-the-board harmful impacts for Maine’s environmental protection programs. DEP’s budget depends on EPA pass-through grants (as do all State environmental agencies). In FY 2016, DEP received $11.4 million (21% of DEP’s overall budget) from EPA, which covered 99 staff. DEP already has experienced major budget and staff cuts, which would make it even more difficult for the agency to fulfill its responsibilities if massive cuts are passed down from EPA. DEP staff has been cut from 460 in FY 2004 to 373 in FY 2016. Specific impacts on clean air, clean water, waste site clean-up, and other vital programs in Maine will not be known until we see further details of the Trump Administration’s proposed budget.