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Proposed Trump Cuts To State Grants Will Cripple DEP, Cause Drastic Fee Increases
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President Trump released his proposed budget blueprint Thursday which confirmed earlier reports of substantial cuts to EPA grants given to states to administer federal programs, eliminating the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes Restoration Programs and discretionary abandoned mine reclamation funding.

While the 53-page blueprint lacks the detail of a complete budget, it outlines the initial positions taken by the Trump Administration on the budget.

The state Department of Environmental Protection receives 30 percent of its funding from the federal government to pay for programs DEP’s administers for the federal government. 

The funding is critical to supporting air quality, water quality, safe drinking water, storage tank, hazardous waste regulation and cleanup, surface mine regulation, mine reclamation and other programs.

These potential federal funding cuts come on top of a 40 percent cut in state General Fund support for DEP over the last 14 years and a now 25 percent cut in its staff.

The cuts proposed in the Trump budget would cripple DEP’s key environmental programs, especially since they are occurring on top of the state cuts.

DEP has had no choice but to raise permit review fees to make up for lost state revenue in the past.  It may not have any choice but to further increase fees on local governments and businesses to make up for this new loss of federal revenue if these programs are to survive.

Here is a quick rundown on the kinds of cuts and funding changes made in Trump’s proposed budget--

EPA Budget

The President’s 2018 Budget requests $5.7 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency, a cut of $2.6 billion, or 31 percent, from the 2017 annualized CR level.

The EPA cuts include (in the words of the Trump budget document)--

-- Cuts Program Grants To States Up To 44 Percent: Supports Categorical Grants with $597 million, a $482 million reduction below 2017 annualized CR levels. These lower levels are in line with the broader strategy of streamlining environmental protection. This funding level eliminates or substantially reduces Federal investment in State environmental activities that go beyond EPA’s statutory requirements.

-- Eliminates Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes Cleanup: Eliminates funding for special regional efforts such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Chesapeake Bay, and other geographic programs. These geographic program eliminations are $427 million lower than the 2017 annualized CR levels. The 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.

-- Cuts Superfund: Reins in Superfund administrative costs and emphasizes ef ciency efforts by funding the Hazardous Substance Superfund Account at $762 million, $330 million below the 2017 annualized CR level. The agency would prioritize the use of existing settlement funds to clean up hazardous waste sites and look for ways to remove some of the barriers that have delayed the program’s ability to return sites to the community.

-- Cuts Enforcement: Avoids duplication by concentrating EPA’s enforcement of environmental protection violations on programs that are not delegated to States, while providing oversight to maintain consistency and assistance across State, local, and tribal programs. This reduces EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance budget to $419 million, which is $129 million below the 2017 annualized CR level.

-- Cuts Research: Better targets EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) at a level of approximately $250 million, which would result in a savings of $233 million from the 2017 annualized CR level. ORD would prioritize activities that support decision-making related to core environmental statutory requirements, as opposed to extramural activities, such as providing STAR grants.

-- Eliminates Energy Star, 49 Other EPA Programs: Eliminates more than 50 EPA programs, saving an additional $347 million compared to the 2017 annualized CR level. Lower priority and poorly performing programs and grants are not funded, nor are duplicative functions that can be absorbed into other programs or that are State and local responsibilities. Examples of eliminations in addition to those previously mentioned include: Energy Star; Targeted Airshed Grants; the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program; and infrastructure assistance to Alaska Native Villages and the Mexico Border.

--  Cuts Climate Programs: Discontinues funding for the Clean Power Plan, international climate change programs, climate change research and partnership programs, and related efforts—saving over $100 million for the American taxpayer compared to 2017 annualized CR levels. Consistent with the President’s America First Energy Plan, the Budget reorients EPA’s air program to protect the air we breathe without unduly burdening the American economy.

-- Water Infrastructure: The Budget includes $2.3 billion for the State Revolving Funds, a $4 million increase over the 2017 annualized CR level. The Budget also provides $20 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program, equal to the funding provided in the 2017 annualized CR. This credit subsidy could potentially support $1 billion in direct Federal loans.

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

Cuts/funding in the U.S. Department of Agriculture budget include (in the words of the Trump budget document)--

-- Eliminates Rural Water/Wastewater Funding: Eliminates the duplicative Water and Wastewater loan and grant program, a savings of $498 million from the 2017 annualized CR level. Rural communities can be served by private sector  financing or other Federal investments in rural water infrastructure, such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s State Revolving Funds.

-- Wildfire Suppression: Fully funds wildland  re preparedness and suppression activities at $2.4 billion, 100 percent of the 10-year average for suppression operations, to ensure the resources necessary to protect life and property.

U.S. Dept. of the Interior

Cuts in the U.S. Department of the Interior budget include (in the words of the Trump budget document)--

-- Eliminates Discretionary Abandoned Mine Reclamation Grants: Eliminates unnecessary, lower priority, or duplicative programs, including discretionary Abandoned Mine Land grants that overlap with existing mandatory grants, National Heritage Areas that are more appropriately funded locally, and National Wildlife Refuge fund payments to local governments that are duplicative of other payment programs.

U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services

Cuts in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services include (in the words of the Trump budget document)--

-- Eliminates LIHEAP: Eliminates the discretionary programs within the Office of Community Services, including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), a savings of $4.2 billion from the 2017 annualized CR level. Compared to other income support programs that serve similar populations, LIHEAP is a lower-impact program and is unable to demonstrate strong performance outcomes. CSBG funds services that are duplicative of other Federal programs, such as emergency food assistance and employment services, and is also a limited-impact program.

Click Here to review a copy of the budget blueprint released by President Trump.

NewsClips:

Trump’s EPA Cuts Would Endanger Pennsylvanians, DEP Chief Says

McKelvey: Trump’s Budget Puts Your Water, Health At Risk

Trump EPA Cuts Could Have Bigger Trickle-Down Impact On PA, NJ

Trump Budget Kills Chesapeake Funds,  Disbelief Follows

Gov. Wolf, Casey Criticize, Toomey Lauds Trump Budget Plan

Allegheny Front: How Big Cuts At EPA Will Impact PA

GASP: Cuts To EPA Will Significantly Impact Southwestern PA

Trump’s First Budget To Include Deep Cuts For EPA, Energy, Domestic Programs

Trump’s Budget Takes A Sledgehammer To The EPA

Trump’s Scorched Earth EPA Budget Draws Swift Reactions

Trump Proposes Budget To Hobble EPA

Trump’s Budget Would Cut EPA Funding By 31%, Eliminate Waterway Cleanup Programs

Trump Proposes Dramatic Cuts To EPA Funding

Trump Bid To Axe Chesapeake Bay Restoration Funding Draws Fire

Trump Budget Would Eliminate Funding For Chesapeake Bay Cleanup

Trump’s Budget Would Torpedo Investments In Climate Change, Clean Energy

Trump Seeks To Ax Appalachia Economic Programs Causing Worry In Coal Country

With EPA Cuts, States Would Lose Help In Emergencies

AP: Winners, Losers In Trump’s First Budget

AP: Republicans Join Democrats Against Trump’s Great Lakes Cuts

Here Are The Federal Agencies, Programs Trump Wants To Eliminate

People Sending EPA Cookies And Thank-You Cards

Op-Ed: Underfunded State Environmental Programs Quickly Becoming An Epidemic

Op-Ed: Keeping PA Clean When EPA Goes AWOL

Editorial: State Must Do Its Part To Correct Its Own Underfunding Of DEP

Allegheny Front: How Big Cuts At EPA Will Impact PA

Lehigh Municipalities Eye Solution To Share $300M Bill For Sewer Repairs

Delaware County Uses Drilling Impact Fees For Darby Creek Trail

Op-Ed: Preserving Farmland, Open Space Worthwhile Investment

AP: PA Republican Lawmakers Sobering To Huge Budget Deficit

Wolf’s Fight To Offer Early Retirement To 2,000 State Workers

Wolf’s Pension Tactic Has Mixed Record

Casey Asks Trump For $50M For Mon River Locks & Dams

U.S. Park Service Closes 2 Locations In Philadelphia Ahead Of Cuts

Related Stories:

StateImpact: DEP: Federal Budget Cuts Will Have Immediate, Devastating Effect In PA

Sen. Yudichak: Proposed Federal Budget Cuts Will Challenge Right To Clean Air, Water

CBF On Proposed Elimination Of Federal Funding For Chesapeake Bay Program

ECOS: President’s Proposed EPA Budget Cuts Will Adversely Affect State Environmental Agencies

[Posted: March 16, 2017]


3/20/2017

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