New details on the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget cuts include plans to slash the number of employees responsible for testing the accuracy of automaker’s fuel efficiency claims, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.
President Donald Trump’s EPA cuts require the agency to lay off 25 percent of its employees and scrap 56 programs, essentially slashing in half the division set up to determine the accuracy of an automaker’s fuel efficiency claims, the documents show. The budget also transfers funding for what is left of the program to fees paid by the automotive industry.
The proposed dramatic cuts come as the Trump administration prepares to reverse former President Barack Obama’s last-minute decision to keep in place regulations to increase fuel economy for new cars to the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
The proposed EPA budget maintains funding to states for the regulating waste treatment and drinking water, but leaves little funding for anything else, The Washington Post reported. In fact, the remaining budget is slashed 43 percent.
Other details regarding the extent of the cuts were expected. The administrator’s Science Advisory Board budget would be cut 84 percent, because the board would not need much money due to “an anticipated lower number of peer reviews,” the documents show. Reductions in funds will also curtail programs on climate change, water quality, and chemical safety, and “safe and sustainable water resources,” according to the documents.
Trump’s decision to slash programs addressing global warming is in line with the administration’s stated aims.
Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters shortly after publishing the budget that the White House is no longer spending money on climate change research because, it’s a “waste of your money.”
The detailed plans also dovetail with EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s stated plan of allowing states to regulate their own environments. He has mentioned several times that the federal agency’s new mission is to play second-fiddle to the states. He told governors last week, for instance, that they are no longer compelled to comply with Obama-era climate regulations, such as the Clean Power Plan (CPP).
“The days of coercive federalism are over,” the Oklahoma Republican wrote in a letter to the governors. He was referring to what he and Trump call Obama’s heavy-handed environmental regulations.
John Konkus, an agency spokesman, mirrored Pruitt’s sentiments.
“EPA will work with the President and Congress to redesign the way we do business to focus on achieving our core responsibilities – working with the states to ensure clean and breathable air,” among other localized responsibilities, he said in a press statement Friday.
Environmentalists consider the new plan a giveaway to fossil fuel companies and other major industrialist centers. They say the president’s budget is an example of how deeply entrenched the Trump administration is with major companies seeking lax regulations. Republican lawmakers, on the other hand, believe the more detailed plan is a breath of fresh air that puts states back in the driver’s seat of the economy.
“There is room to cut wasteful programs in EPA’s budget and at the same time, realign how taxpayer money is best allocated” by “giving states greater say in how they protect and manage their resources,” Republican Sen. John Barrasso said in a statement following The Washington Post’s report.
Republican Sen. James Inhofe, meanwhile, said he wants to see the EPA focus on more traditional environmental concerns.
“What I want them to do is to do what they are supposed to be doing – be concerned about the environment, the water, the air,” he said. “I’d like to see an EPA there to actually serve people and make life better for them.”
He added: “They’re going to have to start dealing with science, not rigged science.”
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