BY MARINA OLNEY
In Donald Trump’s first budget proposal to Congress this past Thursday, he outlined extensive cuts to domestic programs. Among the most severe of these were to the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, which faces a 31% cut that would eliminate 50 programs and 3,200 jobs.
Under his proposal, which is titled, reminiscently, “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again”, the Department of Education would face cuts of about 14%, The State Department would lose about 29%, and Funding for The Department of Health and Human Services would be reduced about 16%. Of the various programs, The EPA faces by far the worst cuts, as Trump seeks to roll back regulations hindering U.S. oil drillers, coal miners, and farmers in order to increase U.S. yield.
Increases to military spending will absorb most of the money retracted from internal programs. The budget outline proposes a $52 billion increase to the Department of Defense and a $2.8 billion addition to the Department of Homeland Security. At least $2.6 billion and up to $22 billion of this is being set aside for the construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, which, it turns out, Mexico is not paying for. Although the Trump Administration will not deliver a full budget proposal until May, their intent is clear: A return to earlier, militaristic policies and the repeal of almost all Obama-era internal policies.
The cuts to the EPA would end regulations on water pollution, clean air, and toxic waste dumps, and case promotions on energy saving appliances. If fully implemented, the cuts could erase any and all progress made during Obama’s presidency. Since before taking office, Trump has cited the EPA as a highly flawed program, one that “comes out with new regulations [every week]. They’re making it impossible–we can leave a little bit, but you can’t destroy businesses.” Trump appointed Scott Pruitt, a republican politician who himself spoke out on many occasions against the agency and has no experience in any sort of science field, to be the head of EPA. Pruitt has stated that he rejects the scientific consensus on climate change. Moreover, he has been linked with the oil and fossil fuel industries, which are not industries one often associates with environmental protection. This, along with the cuts, foreshadow rough waters ahead for the EPA.
As most of Trump’s policies thus far, the cuts to domestic programs, particularly EPA, are badly thought out and unlikely to have a positive effect on the country. As much as Trump wants to bully other countries into submission through a fully bolstered military and increase U.S. GDP by bringing labor back to the United States, his plans are going to fail drastically if he doesn’t take care of his constituents. The way I see it, causing increasing levels of pollution in the country do not qualify as “taking care of constituents.” Conrad Schneider, the advocacy director at Clean Air Task Force, put it eloquently, “Turning back the clock to 1977 won’t ‘Make America Great Again.’ It will ‘Make America Gag Again.”
The cuts to EPA are drastic and dangerous because they reveal both an inability to act in forward thinking ways, and an overall lack of knowledge about the environment on Trump’s part. Instead, they suggest more sinister and perhaps irreversible damage to environment. Unless Congress intends to be fast-acting on cutting down this budget plan, it is likely that the U.S. will lose a major part of one of its most valuable resources.