Trump Budget 2018 Released: EPA Slashed More Than Any Other Agency
President Trump's latest budget proposal looks a lot like his last budget proposal. Because it's basically the same.
This post is updated below.
President Trump’s budget, released today, contains the largest cuts to the EPA among all federal agencies, reducing its budget 31% to just $5.65 billion. The outline of this proposal is essentially carried over from the President’s “skinny budget” released earlier this year, which also called for the EPA funding to be slashed by 31%.
Today’s budget proposal is more detailed than the skinny budget. There are some proposed increases for certain specific EPA programs. The Trump Administration's budget proposal allocates $2.3 billion for state revolving funds, an increase from funding in the recently passed omnibus bill. Other increases include programs related to drinking water, wastewater, and infrastructure.
But overall, the proposed 2018 budget uses the same heavy axe to cut and cull a swath of EPA programs. Among these are the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is completely eliminated. In fact, all regional restoration programs are sacrificed on the slab, including cleanups in Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound.
The conceptual recycle of the skinny budget is a signal that the Trump administration is ignoring political pressure from Republicans and Democrats, legislators and governors as well as local leaders—particularly mayors—who came to the vigorous defense of many EPA and economic development programs that do nothing but pass through to the local level. The budget proposal takes direct aim at EPA programs that have broad and deep bipartisan support, like regional restorations and cleanups, Superfund and jobs training programs. Not to mention numerous other economic development, housing and infrastructure programs—all already in the spotlight due to large economic needs and frictions. Some of which Congress has already taken up in new legislative proposals.
While Republicans are broadly on board the idea of reducing the role of the EPA, so far Trump administration officials have not convinced party members about the wisdom of reducing programs that so clearly invest in areas of need at home. Congress basically ignored the skinny budget when it passed the omnibus spending bill at the beginning of this month—and actually bumped some funding up.
In turn, President Trump has apparently ignored Congress’ omnibus bill in reissuing most of the same ideas in the latest budget proposal. As we wrote previously, these cuts are hard to square with candidate Trump’s campaign promises and election mandates, the needs of the economic moment or even his own EPA administrator's pledges.
There are a few things in Washington and the country that basically everyone seems to agree on: cleaning up contaminated sites, restoring habitat and ecology and rebuilding America. The Brownfields Program—leveraging $18 of private investment for every $1 through the program—makes these bipartisan goals easier to achieve. The Superfund program, which can raise property values more than a mile away from a cleaned-up site, is the kind of economic development program we need more of not less.
Congressional Republicans generally don’t like many of the things EPA does, nor many of the directions the Obama administration took the Agency—particularly its emphasis on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And because Republicans control Congress, there are likely to be cuts at EPA. Some programs might be eliminated. Already, Agency resources show signs of being reallocated from climate to chemicals (TSCA).
But it’s unlikely the steep cuts in this budget proposal will get very far in Congress. So, there is still hope that popular and successful programs can get the boost they need to take advantage of the investment and redevelopment wave working its way through the U.S.
Below are some of the specific cuts proposed in the Trump Administration’s 2018 budget proposal (cuts are shown subtracted from funding levels found in the recent omnibus spending bill):
- REDUCTION: CATEGORICAL GRANTS $1.08B vs. $597M Cut =-$482M
- ELIMINATION: ENERGY STAR AND VOLUNTARY CLIMATE PROGRAMS Environmental Protection Agency -$66M
- REDUCTION: ENFORCEMENT $548 vs. 419M Cut = -$129M
- REDUCTION: RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT $483 vs. $249M Cut = -$234M
- REDUCTION: SUPERFUND $1.92B vs. $762M Cut = -$330M
- ELIMINATION: GEOGRAPHIC PROGRAMS (e.g. Chesapeke $427M vs. $0 Cut = -$427M
- REDUCTION: FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY STATE AND LOCAL GRANTS Department of Homeland Security $1.979B vs. $1.212B Cut = -$767M
- ELIMINATION: FLOOD HAZARD MAPPING AND RISK -$190M
- ELIMINATION: CHOICE NEIGHBORHOODS Department of Housing and Urban Development -$125M
- ELIMINATION: COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT Department of Housing and Urban Development -$2.994B
- ELIMINATE THE RURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM Department of Agriculture
- ELIMINATION: NEIGHBORHOOD REINVESTMENT CORPORATION $175M vs. $27M Cut -$148M
- ELIMINATION: GREEN CLIMATE FUND AND GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE INITIATIVE -$1.590B
- REDUCTION: CAPITAL INVESTMENT GRANTS (NEW STARTS) Department of Transportation $2.160B vs. $1.232B Cut = -$928M
- REDUCTION: ESSENTIAL AIR SERVICE Department of Transportation $-175M vs. $0 Cut = -$175M (impacting rural airports)
- REDUCTION: GRANTS TO AMTRAK Department of Transportation $1.404B vs. $774M Cut = -$630M
- ELIMINATION: NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENTS (TIGER) Department of Transportation -$499M
- REDUCTION: COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS FUND Department of the Treasury $234M vs. $14M Cut =-$220M
- REDUCTION: CORPS OF ENGINEERS - AGENCY TOPLINE Corps of Engineers $5.978B vs. $5.002B Cut = -$976M
The EPA has also released a detailed agency budget: EPA Budget in Brief. “The agency’s FY 2018 budget lays out a comprehensive back-to-basics and foundational strategy to maintain core environmental protection with respect to statutory and regulatory obligations. This budget provides the direction and resources to return the EPA to its core mission of protecting human health and the environment. This can be accomplished by engaging with state, local, and tribal partners to create and implement sensible regulations that also work to enhance economic growth.”
Specific brownfield impacts include:
"In FY 2018, the EPA requests $33.4 million for the Brownfields grant program that provides assistance to states and tribes to establish core capabilities and enhance their state and Tribal Brownfields response programs. These response programs address contaminated brownfields sites that do not require federal action but need assessment and/or cleanup before they can be ready for reuse. States and tribes may use grant funding under this program to develop a public record, create an inventory of brownfields sites, develop oversight and enforcement authorities, conduct public education and opportunities for public participation, develop mechanisms for approval of cleanup plans and certification that cleanup efforts are completed, capitalize a Revolving Loan Fund for brownfields-related work, purchase environmental insurance, develop tracking and management systems for land use, and conduct site specific activities such as assessments and cleanups at brownfields sites."
State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG) Brownfield Projects
"The President’s Budget requests $69 million for Brownfields projects through State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG). With the FY 2018 request, the EPA plans to fund assessment cooperative agreements and direct cleanup cooperative agreements. The EPA also will support the assessment and cleanup of sites contaminated by petroleum or petroleum products and award an estimated $3.0 million in environmental workforce development and job training grants. In FY 2018, the funding provided is expected to result in the assessment of 1,300 brownfields properties, all of which are located in distressed communities. Using EPA grant dollars, the brownfields grantees will leverage 5,865 cleanup and redevelopment jobs and $1.1 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding, and 4,500 acres of Brownfields will be ready for reuse. In FY 2018, the EPA will continue to foster federal, state, local, and public/private partnerships to return properties to productive economic use in communities."
Below is a table summarizing select brownfield line items compared to previous spending levels:
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And check out our previous coverage of brownfield legislation, including last year's near miss legislation: