Though the Journal's $325,000 annual budget is a "tiny fraction" of the project's $73 million appropriation, in August 2017 EPA emailed editor Karl Blankenship to notify him that the funds would not be renewed "due to a shift in priorities," Jacob Fenston reports for WAMU-FM in Washington, D.C. The grant payment had been awarded in July and was already being processed. The future of the paper is uncertain, since 40 percent of its budget came from the EPA grant.
Rich Kuhlman, who worked on EPA grants for 30 years, said though he's never seen a political appointee making decisions about grants, pulling the Journal's funding may not be illegal. "The Journal isn’t alone in losing its funding. The EPA under Trump has cancelled millions of dollars in competitive grants, some for political reasons, according to the Washington Post. But there is something that sets the Journal apart from other grant recipients," Fenston reports. "As a media institution, it’s protected by the First Amendment against government retaliation for stories it has published." An attorney for legal nonprofit Democracy Forward, which is representing the Bay Journal, says the EPA's actions appear to violate the publication's constitutional rights.