President Trump released more details regarding his so called “skinny budget”, which was previously released on March 16, 2017. The new 64-page EPA memo sheds greater light on the skinny budget’s outline that calls for a 31% reduction in EPA spending--a cut of $2.6 billion resulting in a new spending level of $5.65 billion and 3,200 fewer jobs at the Agency.
The spending reductions are achieved through an overhaul of the Agency’s priorities. At the core of the proposal is a fundamental shift of enforcement and oversight responsibilities from the EPA to state and local governments. However, the President’s focus on infrastructure means funding remains stable at $2.3 billion for the State Revolving Funds program which supports drinking water and wastewater projects. As a result, if the infrastructure spending is excluded from the budget proposal, the cuts to the remaining EPA budget are closer to 43%. In addition to eliminating voluntary efforts on climate change and scientific research, the budget eliminates 56 programs deemed not to advance the Agency’s core federal requirements. President Trump will submit his formal budget proposal to Congress in the first part of May and then the old adage of “the President proposes and Congress disposes” will become operative. The Interior Appropriations Subcommittees in the House and the Senate will write their respective funding bills over the course of the summer and the fall with a likely push to reduce spending, but nowhere close to the levels proposed by the President.