Special Topics in Environmental Management

President Seeks Elimination of 42 EPA Programs

A detailed look into how the EPA would achieve a 31 percent reduction in its annual budget is provided in a memo from David A. Bloom, the Agency’s acting chief financial officer, to top Agency officials. The memo was intended to be confidential but became available on the Internet.

The memo states that the Trump administration plans to ask Congress to reduce the 2017 approved budget of $8.19 billion to $5.65 billion in 2018. Listed for elimination are 42 Agency programs and subprograms and the 3,800 full-time employees (FTEs) that run them. The EPA currently has 15,380 FTEs. Seven categorical grants are also proposed for elimination.

Core Statutory Responsibilities

According to the memo, the major justifications for the cuts are to enable the EPA to focus on its main legal obligations and its highest national priorities and return the responsibility for funding local environmental efforts and programs to state and local entities.

“This resource level will require taking a comprehensive look at our priorities and thinking differently about the best ways to accomplish our core statutory responsibilities,” writes Bloom. “The Agency will need to update and strengthen performance information in support of this direction. The Administration intends to use an evidence-based approach to improving programs and services, including reporting critical performance metrics.”

14 Climate Partnerships Targeted

The single largest proposed action would eliminate EPA’s Climate Protection Program, a $70 million undertaking that contains 14 voluntary partnership programs. These include such well-known titles as Energy Star®, the Landfill Methane Outreach Program, and SmartWay. Defunding would do away with about 224 jobs. The memo states that EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation should begin developing legislative options and associated groundwork for transferring ownership and implementation of these voluntary partnership programs to nongovernmental entities.

Categorical grants proposed for defunding include nonpoint source pollution, lead, radon, and underground storage tanks. These grants are currently budgeted at about $224 million.

The most significant increase noted in the memo is $14 million to implement the June 2016 amendments to the Toxic Substance Control Act.

Geographic Programs and Others

Other programs proposed for elimination include:

  • Geographic programs for Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico, Lake Champlain, Long Island Sound, Puget Sound, San Francisco Bay, South Florida, and Great Lakes Restoration. The Great Lakes program is the largest of these with a $290 million budget and 71 FTEs.
  • Environmental Justice, $1.9 million and 40 FTEs.
  • Homeland Security, Critical Infrastructure Protection; $7.7 million and 23 FTEs. This program includes work on water sector risk reduction and water security and includes funding for Water Alliance for Threat Reduction programs.
  • Infrastructure Assistance for Alaska Native Villages, $20 million and 0 FTEs.
  • Radiation: Protection, $3.3 million and 59 FTEs. The memo describes this program as “lower priority.”
  • Toxic Substance: Lead Risk Reduction Program, $2.3 million and 72 FTEs.
  • Surface Water Protection: WaterSense, $3 million and 8 FTEs.

Also targeted for elimination are research programs addressing climate and energy, chemical safety and sustainability, safe and sustainable water resources, and sustainable and healthy communities.