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Gutting EPA’s Budget And Staff Would Endanger The Health Of Millions Of Americans

HPG

During his nationally televised speech before Congress on Tuesday night, President Trump vowed to “promote clean air and clean water.”Is that right, Mr. President? Then why is your administration proposing to slash as much as 25 percent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s current budget and cut its staff by 20 percent? That would cripple environmental safeguards, jeopardize public health, and put future generations at risk.The EPA has made remarkable progress cleaning up air and water pollution since its inception in 1970, but there is still more work to do. In 2015 alone, polluters dumped more than 190 million tons of toxic chemicals into waterways nationwide; at least 5,000 community drinking water systems violated federal lead regulations; and some 116 million Americans lived in counties with harmful levels of ozone or particle pollution, which have been linked to lung cancer, asthma, cardiovascular damage, reproductive problems, and premature death.If anything, the environmental challenges of today suggest that the EPA needs more money and staffing to carry out its congressionally mandated mission, especially since Congress has already reduced its budget between fiscal years 2010 and 2016 by 28 percent in real dollars to $8.14 billion, a paltry 0.2 percent of the projected $4-trillion fiscal year 2017 federal budget.For his part, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt doesn’t seem particularly fazed by the prospect of his agency having to make do with lot less, claiming that state environmental agencies can pick up the slack. As he explained during his Senate confirmation hearing in mid-January, he believes “state regulators … oftentimes best understand the local needs and the uniqueness of our environmental challenges,” and, as far as he’s concerned, they should shoulder the primary responsibility for enforcing the law.But can state environmental agencies really compensate for an eviscerated EPA?The experts say no.States Rely on EPA AssistanceIf anyone understands the relationship between the EPA and state environmental agencies, it’s Carol Browner, who served as EPA administrator during the Clinton administration after running Florida’s Department of Environmental Regulation. State agencies, she says, are simply not equipped to take on the burden of federal functions.“State agencies play an important role in protecting their citizens from dangerous pollution,” she said. “But they can’t do the job alone.

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Gutting EPA’s Budget And Staff Would Endanger The Health Of Millions Of Americans

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