President Donald Trump’s administration on Thursday proposed a 31 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency's budget, as the White House seeks to eliminate climate change programs and trim initiatives to protect air and water quality.
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney confirmed on Thursday that the new administration had no interest in delivering funding to combat climate change. Asked about climate change programs, Mulvaney told reporters “We consider that to be a waste of your money [...] I think the president is fairly straightforward. We're not spending money on that,” he said.
The EPA would sustain the biggest cut of any federal agency in the White House 2018 budget, as Trump seeks to clear away regulations he claims are hobbling US oil drillers, coal miners and farmers.
The proposed cuts are a starting point, and Congress could temper them in its budget deliberations.
The proposal would slash funding for enforcing regulations, fighting water pollution, cleaning up sites contaminated by toxic waste and promoting energy-efficient appliances. It would eliminate 3,200 EPA employees, or 19 percent of the agency's workforce.
It would effectively erase former President Barack Obama’s initiatives to combat climate change by cutting funding for the agency's signature Clean Power Plan aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
“Consistent with the President's America First Energy Plan, the budget reorients the EPA's air program to protect the air we breathe without unduly burdening the American economy,” a summary of the proposed EPA budget said.
Some lawmakers from Trump's Republican party praised the proposed cuts, but some expressed concern about cuts to programs affecting their region of the country. Environmentalists blasted the plan, saying it would return America back to 1977 when smoggy skies and polluted rivers pushed lawmakers to strengthen federal clean air and clean water laws.
(This article has been published in an arrangement with Reuters and has been cut for length.)