Friday, March 03, 2017

EPA chief says he wants to save some programs; critics not convinced; state impacts examined

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt (EPA photo)
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is asking mayors to bring him "success stories" to take to the White House Office of Management and Budget to save proposed cuts to EPA, Emily Holden reports for Climatewire.

The Trump administration this week proposed reducing the EPA's budget by 25 percent, employees by 20 percent and eliminating dozens of programs. Reporters around the country, such as Jim Bruggers at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, are looking at the impact on their states. He writes, "The Trump administration's plan to reduce by 30 percent grants used by states and cities to enforce clean air and clean water rules would also seem to contradict the new EPA administrator Scott Pruitt's pledge to give states more control over environmental programs."

Pruitt, speaking Thursday before the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said "he wants to maintain funding to clean up brownfields and Superfund sites, meet unfulfilled air quality standards and keep paying for local water infrastructure," Holden writes. "An EPA official who asked reporters not to identify him by name said Pruitt made it clear that some of his budget priorities differ from the White House's draft. The official said he wouldn't characterize Pruitt's concerns as 'pushback.' He noted that there are some programs both Pruitt and members of Congress want to keep around."

"While Pruitt is doing damage control and touting his support of some of the money that goes to states, he hasn't addressed funding for other issues reportedly on the chopping block," Holden writes. "These range from climate change and environmental justice to the largely successful Diesel Emissions Reduction Act and Energy Star programs."

John O'Grady, an EPA union leader, "said Pruitt's support for some programs is doing 'nothing to allay' the fears of agency employees," Holden writes. O'Grady said in an email, "EPA is full of very well educated and dedicated attorneys, biologists, chemists, ecologists, engineers, geologists, toxicologists, and other highly skilled professionals who are able to 'read between the lines.' Mr. Pruitt is here at EPA to deconstruct EPA." (Read more)

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