Trump’s War With the Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA will face budget cuts under the new administration

Scott Pruitt, the current Administrator of the EPA (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

By Camille Garcia-Mendoza

The Progressive Teen Staff Writer

UNDER THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY exhibited immense growth, issuing around four thousand new regulations and expanding its budget by millions. This is all set to change, however, under the Trump administration — where budget cuts, as well as other measures to decrease the EPA’s authority, have been promised.

The extent of Trump’s desire to dismantle the EPA was first shown on the campaign trail where he often dismissed global warming as a hoax and called EPA regulations a hindrance to business’ abilities to prosper. Since taking office, Trump has continued to work toward that goal, starting with the appointment of Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA. Pruitt is an active climate change denier who has sued the EPA 14 times in the past. Pruitt has agreed on the funding plans for the EPA under Trump, expressing his wish to return the EPA to its “core mission” through some of the largest budget cuts in the agency’s history.

The extent of these budget cuts were outlined in Trump’s newly released budget proposal. The proposal outlines Trump’s wish to cut around 30% of the agency’s funding, as well as roll back some of the agency’s core initiatives relating to climate change and clean water and air programs. Although 30% may not sound like much, the budget would theoretically decline from $8.2 billion to $5.7 billion.

This drastic budget cut affects a variety of programs within the Environmental Protection Agency. It would cause a loss of 3,200 jobs. These jobs are mainly from Obama Era initiatives, most notably the Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan, which was first proposed in 2014, seeks to mitigate the risks of anthropogenic climate change by setting goals for the states to cut their carbon dioxide pollution and sets stricter standards for power plants and their emissions.

Although there are rumors that Trump is going to release an executive order to alter the Clean Power Plan, for now, Trump’s plan to discontinue all funding to the initiative will strongly contribute to its demise even without an executive order. The implications of this are widespread. As the world’s second largest greenhouse gas emitter, the United States desperately needs to reduce their emissions rate. The Clean Power Plan presented a feasible way to achieve this goal during a time when international pressure to decrease emissions and the environmental effects of global warming made this a pressing matter. Without funding, the plan essentially becomes moot, thus making the shift toward renewable energy more difficult and protracted.

Throughout his campaign, Trump also promised to pull the United States out of the United Nations’ Paris Agreement, which was an internationally led effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and address global warming. Under the budget proposal, Trump has indicated his desire to halt payments to the United Nation’s climate efforts. This has harrowing effects on the United States’ international perception and hurts the global fight against climate change. Under Obama, the United States was one of the most important factors in leading the United Nations’ climate efforts.

Under Trump, this has drastically shifted, thus causing the United States to appear as if it is sacrificing a huge leadership role within the international community. In addition to exiting the UN agreement, Trump’s budget plan would also eliminate a plethora of international climate change projects that are run by the State Department and the EPA thus undermining the United States’ international legitimacy as well as assistance in the fight against climate change.

In addition to these larger cuts, a multitude of lesser-known but equally important projects will lose funding. A number of domestic restoration programs in regions like the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes are being completely eliminated, hurting our local ecosystems and biodiversity. An abundance of research-based projects’ funding would be slashed or eliminated. This includes NASA, which is currently working on many climate change-related studies. The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy and Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program — which both help to develop greener technology — would be eliminated. Finally, a number of clear air and water programs’ funding would be cut. This may have the largest and most immediate impact. This is because, as shown by places such as Flint, clean environments are becoming scarce within our own country. Without initiatives focusing on air and water pollution, other low income cities may be at risk to suffer the same fate as Flint.

Donald Trump’s administration has proposed the largest cuts to the EPA since Ronald Reagan’s presidency. As a climate change skeptic, believer in small government, and an advocate for unfettered economic growth, Trump’s inability to account for the nuances and importance of environmental protection are accurately reflected in his budget proposal. Thanks to leaders in Congress who are strong environmental protection advocates, the budget proposal most likely will not pass as is. However, the Environmental Protection Agency — as well as our local ecosystem and the world — are placed at risk due to Trump’s indifferent attitude toward the dangers of climate change and environmental degradation.

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