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EPA budget faces major cuts while military enjoys boost

by Emmy Frank - Staff Writer
Tue, Apr 4th 2017 10:40 pm
Photo taken from U.S. Military on Twitter

The Environmental Protection Agency could be facing budget cuts by as much as 31 percent, leaving the organization with its lowest budget in 16 years. The money saved from the cuts would go to increasing the budget for the U.S. military which is to see an increase of over $50 billion if the proposition is passed.
Photo taken from U.S. Military on Twitter The Environmental Protection Agency could be facing budget cuts by as much as 31 percent, leaving the organization with its lowest budget in 16 years. The money saved from the cuts would go to increasing the budget for the U.S. military which is to see an increase of over $50 billion if the proposition is passed.

 Trump administration has issued a new, more detailed plan to slash the Environmental Protection Agency's budget by a whopping 31 percent, with plans to lay off 25 percent of its employees and eliminate 56 different programs, including the Great Lakes Restoration program and numerous science programs.

Juliet Eilperin, Chris Mooney and Steven Mufson's article for The Washington Post, "New EPA documents reveal even deeper proposed cuts to staff and programs" clarifies the controversial budget plan. The EPA's acting Chief Financial Advisor David A. Bloom explains that the agency would now "center on our core legal requirements," eliminating any other activities that are not explicitly mandated by law. This means that voluntary activities like scientific research and programs will be left up to the states and local governments to address. Programs that give extra funding to states to carry out environmental protection, like the nonpoint source pollution program, will be removed.

Devolving authority to states may seem reasonable, but it is important to understand that environmental issues transcend state lines. One state's failure to address an environmental concern can easily impact another state, especially when it comes to air and water. Contaminated water in one state with less regulations for clean water can travel into another state's water, polluting the water there. A state with less regulations for carbon dioxide emissions can heighten carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, contributing to climate change which will ultimately impact the whole world. These are just a couple of generalized examples to explain how fluid the environment really is; it shouldn't be viewed as something that can be confined to one state. Federal oversight of the environment is essential because its issues have the potential to impact all of us.

The plan to cut the EPA's funds is a part of Trump's proposed budget for the next fiscal year as explained in Shear and Steinhauer's article for The New York Times, "Trump to seek $54 billion increase in military spending." Trump's current plan is to increase military spending by $54 billion while cutting non-military programs by the same amount, excluding entitlement programs like Medicare, Social Security and Veteran's benefits. 

Considering that our military budget for the 2016 fiscal year was $612 billion (according to the "Fiscal Year 2016 Defense Authorization Act" page on senate.gov), this is a dramatic increase to an already enormous military budget. To suggest such an increase in military spending for what is already one of the largest and most powerful militaries in the world would make it almost impossible to cut that same amount from countless other federal programs.

When considering Trump's budget, longtime Republican budget aide Bill Hoagland said, "I don't know how you take $54 billion out without wholesale taking out entire departments. You need to control it in the area of the entitlement programs, which he's taken off the table. It is a proposal, I dare say, that will be dead upon arrival even with a Republican Congress [sic]."

Although it's unlikely that Trump's entire plan will be approved, it certainly seems like the EPA's budget proposals will be. 

According to the National Geographic article, "This is how the EPA uses its budget—now targeted for deep cuts," the plan, should it be approved, will make the EPA's budget at an all-time low. Last year, the EPA's budget was just $8.1 billion, making it the lowest budget the EPA has seen in 16 years. The EPA did the best it could with this embarrassing budget, allocating 52 percent of the funds for clean and safe water, 23 percent for land preservation and restoration, 12 percent for clean air, seven percent for healthy communities and ecosystems and six percent for compliance and environmental stewardship.

It is interesting to me that Trump, a man adamant about our national security, wants to keep increasing our military budget but keep cutting the EPA's budget. It is without a doubt essential to our national security to have a significant military budget but by depriving our nation the means to protect our environment, we are hurting our people. We live in, are a part of and exist solely because of the environment. 

We cannot thrive as a society when we have contaminated water, toxic air and polluted soil. The scientific community needs to be heard and environmental protection needs to be considered a national security issue. 


mfran8@brockport.edu

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