In a budget blueprint full of federal spending clawbacks, no one got cut deeper than the Environmental Protection Agency.
Though the agency was projected to take a hit in the President Trump's fiscal 2018 plan, its 31 percent markdown — to the tune of $2.6 billion — was the largest in a budget full of cuts.
Among the biggest reductions was a $330 million slice of the Hazardous Substance Superfund account — which funds the cleanup of contaminated sites — that the White House said would be achieved by reining in administrative costs.
The budget also ended the Clean Power Plan — an Obama-era initiative to cap carbon dioxide emissions at power plants — alongside other climate change programs while promising that the 2018 proposal “reorients EPA’s air program to protect the air we breathe without unduly burdening the American economy.”
EPA enforcement was also reduced by $129 million, and another $347 million was cleaved from the elimination of 50 agency programs, including environmental programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Chesapeake Bay Program and other regional programs.
The administration’s budget proposal set federal employee unions afire with discontent over what they called “anemic levels of funding.”
“This budget proposal has nothing to do with draining the swamp and everything to do with hurting regular Americans,” National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon said in a statement. “Starving the very agencies that serve taxpayers every day, in ways big and small, is a cruel opening bid in the annual debate over our federal budget.”
American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement that the budget obscures the impact of job losses that would result from proposed spending cuts like the ones at EPA.
“The severity of the budget cuts proposed by President Trump could require mass layoffs of employees at federal departments and agencies, although the budget blueprint released by the White House does not detail how many federal employees could lose their jobs,” he said.
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said in a March 15 news conference that the proposed EPA budget would fund “beyond the core functions of the agency.”