President’s New Budget is Bad News for the Environment and Public Lands
Today the President released his proposed budget for FY 2018 which adds to his record of attacking or defunding many of the programs that are key to protecting our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and Bureau of Land Management lands.
Back in March, the Trump administration proposed a “skinny budget” with historic budget cuts to the federal agencies charged with managing our public lands and protecting clean air and water. The President’s new proposed budget is not much different and poses serious risks for 2018.
The Environmental Protection Agency, responsible for maintaining clean air and drinking water, will be slashed by almost a third (31.4%), reducing the total funding for the EPA to $5.65 billion. Not only is the largest cut proposed for any federal agency, it would also be the lowest funding since the agency was created in the mid 1970’s.
For the agency, this would mean a drastic reduction of 3,800 jobs, a 25% cut to the Superfund program that cleans up toxic waste and chemical spills, eliminating funding for the Clean Power Plan, and a massive reduction in the agency’s ability to monitor levels of pollution in our drinking water. Here in Washington State, the hard fought funding for Puget Sound recovery would be eliminated.
The proposed budget also cuts the EPA’s enforcement office by 40%, while simultaneously slashing grants for state enforcement of environmental regulations by 45%. This means that more polluters would slip through the cracks, impacting our clean air and drinking water.
The Department of Agriculture, which includes the National Forest Service, would see a 5% reduction in its budget. Of particular concern is that the Legacy Roads and Trails Program would be eliminated completely. This job producing funding program has supported watershed restoration efforts and a sustainable road system on National Forest lands. The program funds decommissioning old decaying roads that provide aquatic risks while maintaining roads and trails that provide recreational access. The national forest road system has 374,000 miles of roads – which amounts to 8 times the size of the national highway system. The pure number of roads is unsustainable, and will continue to degrade our watersheds and prevent maintenance on roads that provide access to key recreation locations.
The Department of the Interior would also see a significant funding cut of 11%.
The President’s proposed cuts would affect public land acquisition and maintenance, eliminate the National Wildlife Refuge Fund, and reduce funding for the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. The budget also calls for opening Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling to assume cost savings of $1.8 billion. In addition, the budget seeks to reauthorize the 2000 Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act, which allows the federal government to sell “surplus lands” to states and private entities.
It is obvious that the 2018 proposed budget is just another attack against a healthy environment and our public lands, while boosting oil and gas, mining and timber companies. These drastic cuts would have serious implications for climate change, recreation economies, clean air and drinking water, and the health of the American people.
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