Administration Proposes Deep Cuts to EPA

March 16, 2017 – The Administration has released its “Budget Blueprint” for FY 2018 containing general information about its proposed budget, which calls for cuts to EPA’s budget of 31 percent, reductions in EPA staff of 21 percent and a 45-percent cut to categorical grants (Section 103 and 105 air quality grants are under the categorical grant line item).  The budget proposal, entitled, America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again, is not detailed enough to ascertain the impact on state and local air quality grants specifically; however, it states that “[t]his funding level eliminates or substantially reduces Federal investment in State environmental activities that go beyond EPA’s statutory requirements.”  The reductions outlined in the proposal are more extensive than NACAA recently reported based on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) “passback” document that the association obtained (see Washington Update of February 27-March 3, 2017).  Other significant reductions in the budget blueprint include a 25-percent cut to funding for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance and a 48-percent decrease to the Office of Research and Development.  The blueprint also calls for discontinuation of funding for the “Clean Power Plan, international climate change programs, climate change research and partnership programs, and related efforts;” elimination of funding for specific regional programs, such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Chesapeake Bay and other geographic programs (stating “[t]he budget returns the responsibility for funding local environmental efforts and programs to State and local entities, allowing EPA to focus on its highest national priorities”); and elimination of over 50 EPA programs, including, among others, Energy Star; Targeted Airshed Grants; the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program; and infrastructure assistance to Alaska Native Villages and the Mexico Border.  In May 2017, the Administration is expected to propose a more specific budget, which will be submitted to Congress for consideration. Congress has the ultimate say in how much to appropriate to federal programs.