Regulatory Developments

A Preview of EPA’s Budget Under President Trump

Many news outlets have reported on a leaked 23-page budget the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sent to the EPA, which recommends an overall 24 percent cut to the Agency’s total annual budget for fiscal year (FY) 2018 to go along with a 19 percent reduction in EPA staff. The OMB document itself has not been made public, but in a news release, the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA) provides a list of the significant administrative and programmatic reductions the OMB proposes.

Environmental Protection Agency sign
As the NACAA notes, the OMB document, called a passback (i.e., the OMB passes EPA’s proposed budget back to the Agency) comprises instructions on what the EPA may and may not do. OMB’s document is not the final budget proposal the administration submits to Congress, although any such proposal may indeed contain all of OMB’s recommendations and perhaps even additional cuts. However, Congress has the final word in appropriating Agency budgets. The NACAA points out that even conservative members of Congress may resist cuts in some EPA programs that benefit their states or districts.

3,000 Full-Time Jobs Eliminated

Following are OMB’s significant budgetary changes for the EPA in FY 2018 as listed in NACAA’s news release:

  • $159.5 million for state and local air quality management grants (Section 103/105 grants), which is a 30 percent reduction from the FY 2017 level of $227.8 million;
  • $6.16 billion overall budget is a 24 percent reduction from the FY 2017 level of $8.24 billion;
  • 12,397 full-time equivalent (FTE) staffing level, a 20 percent reduction from the FY 2017 level of 15,376;
  • Consolidation of 10 EPA regions into 8;
  • Elimination of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant program;
  • A 69.4 percent reduction to the Climate Protection Program;
  • Elimination of the Indoor Air Radon Program and State Indoor Radon Grants;
  • Elimination of the Environmental Justice (EJ) office and a reduction of EJ funds by 77.7 percent from FY 2017 levels;
  • Shift in focus for enforcement and compliance programs to “eliminate potential duplication of effort,” including activities carried out by states;
  • Reduction of 32 percent in EPA’s Science and Technology budget; and
  • Elimination of geographic and other programs, including:
    • Alaska native villages;
    • Beach and fish programs;
    • Brownfield projects;
    • Clean Power Plan implementation;
    • Climate voluntary partnership programs (14 programs);
    • Endocrine grants; -Energy Star® grants (transfer “ownership and implementation of Energy Star to a non-governmental entity”);
    • Environmental education;
    • Geographical programs (including Lake Champlain, Long Island Sound, San Francisco Bay, and South Florida and near elimination of the Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes Restoration, and Puget Sound programs);
    • Global climate change research;
    • Mexico border grants;
    • Multipurpose grants;
    • Office of Public Engagement;
    • Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Research grants;
    • Small minority business assistance;
    • U.S.-Mexico Border Program; and
    • WaterSense.

NACAA’s news release is here.