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SoCal Business Leaders Send Open Letter To EPA Chief Warning Against Rollback Of Environmental Regulations

Today the Los Angeles Business Council sent an urgent warning to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt that recent efforts to rollback climate change policies, including the Energy Star program, will damage our economy, slow job growth, and put the environment at risk. The letter was sent on behalf of the LABC’s 450 members who represent a cross-section of sectors including utilities, healthcare, real estate and finance. The full text of the letter is below: Dear Administrator Pruitt, On behalf of the Los Angeles Business Council, which represents over 450 influential businesses across virtually every industry, we urge you to stop the rollback of key environmental regulations. As business leaders, we have a unique perspective on how environmental regulations have not only improved our citizens’ quality of life, but significantly grown our local economy. We share the sentiment of the recently sent letter to President Trump by the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, co-founded by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, opposing recent actions to roll back the Clean Power Plan, reduce vehicle fuel efficiency standards, and propose budget cuts to the EPA and critical programs such as Energy Star. There is overwhelming evidence showing that investment in clean energy and other environmentally-friendly initiatives spur job growth: Over 500,000 Californians are now employed by the clean energy industry, where wages are higher than average, and well-paying, entry-level blue collar jobs are a reality. Overall, renewable energy has the potential to be cleaner, safer, and more cost-efficient than traditional fossil fuels. As a group devoted to promoting business interests in the Los Angeles region, we respectfully request that you do not overlook the economic benefits of policies that incentivize renewable energy use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These impacts reverberate across many industries: they reduce costs in the long-term, encourage research and development in job-producing industries, and save millions in public health costs. We are especially concerned about the rollback of the Energy Star program. […]

Trump’s budget is a declaration of war on the environment

The Trump team wants to dramatically shrink much of the federal government, but you know what it wants to shrink most of all? Environmental programs. Under the budget plan released by the White House on Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency would take a bigger percentage hit than any other cabinet-level department: Its funding would be slashed by almost a third. That means many of the agency’s programs would experience crippling budget cuts, while others would get wiped out entirely. Environmental programs in other departments would come under the ax as well.

President Trump claims he wants to focus on clean air and water instead of climate change, but this new “skinny budget” proposal suggests otherwise. It not only eliminates climate initiatives, but cuts air and water programs, too.

Here are 13 of the most critical proposed budget cuts:

Slashed: EPA’s budget would be cut by 31 percent, from $8.2 billion to $5.7 billion — its lowest level in four decades, accounting for inflation. Slashed: EPA’s staff would be cut by about 21 percent, taking the workforce from around 15,000 people down to some 11,800. Eliminated: International climate change programs run by the State Department and the EPA would end, including payments the U.S. had pledged to make to United Nations climate efforts. Eliminated: President Obama’s signature Clean Power Plan, designed to reduce CO2 emissions from power plants, would have all of its funding zeroed out. (Trump is soon expected to issue an executive order calling for the Clean Power Plan to be rewritten.) Eliminated: Restoration programs for the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay would be completely wiped out. Eliminated: Energy Star, a popular voluntary labeling program for efficient appliances and devices, would lose all federal funding. Slashed: The Superfund program for cleanup of contaminated sites would have its funding cut from about $1.1 billion to $762 million. (EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reportedly pushed to maintain funding for toxic site cleanups, but lost that battle.) Eliminated: There would be no more funding for long-distance Amtrak trains; federal funds would be focused on Amtrak’s regional service, like in the Northeast Corridor. Eliminated: The Department of Agriculture’s water and waste disposal loan and grant program, which gives money to rural governments and tribal nations to improve drinking water systems, would end. Eliminated: All funding would be erased for National Historic Sites, which are managed by the National Park Service. Eliminated: No funds would go to the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, which improves the energy efficiency of low-income families’ homes, helping them save money on utility bills and prevent carbon pollution. Eliminated: The Department of Energy would lose all funding for its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which helps to get innovative energy technologies off the ground, and for the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, which works to develop more advanced, efficient cars. Slashed: NASA’s climate research programs would get hit hard, with several missions that study climate change getting the ax.

There’s lots more where that came from. If you want to dig deeper into Trump’s budget plans, the Washington Post has an excellent rundown.

Keep in mind, though: Congress gets to write federal budgets, not the president. Trump has now put forward his proposal, but the House and Senate will have their own ideas. Even many Republicans are unnerved by Trump’s proposed cuts, environmental and otherwise. GOP Rep. Leonard Lance of New Jersey, for one, took jabs at the president’s plan, arguing that some of the cuts “are penny wise but pound foolish.” That’s putting it mildly.

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