New US documents reveal deeper proposed staff cuts

Indo Asian News Service

Washington, April 1 (IANS) The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a new, more detailed plan for laying off 25 per cent of its employees and scrapping 56 programmes, including pesticide safety and water runoff control, a media report said on Saturday.

At a time when the agency is considering a controversial rollback in fuel efficiency standards adopted under former President Barack Obama, the plan would cut by more than half the number of people in EPA's division for testing the accuracy of fuel efficiency claims by automakers.

The spending document, obtained by The Washington Post, offers the most detailed vision to date of how the 31 per cent budget cut to the EPA ordered up by President Donald Trump's Office of Management and Budget would diminish the agency.

The March 21 plan calls for even deeper reductions in staffing than earlier drafts.

It maintains funding given to states to administer waste treatment and drinking water. But as a result, the budget for the rest of EPA is slashed by 43 per cent.

The Trump administration says the EPA cuts reflect a philosophy of limiting federal government and devolving authority to the states, localities and, in some cases, corporations.

Due to the sweeping cuts to scientific programmes, the administrator's own Science Advisory Board budget would be cut 84 per cent, The Washington Post reported.

Reductions in research funds will curtail programmes on climate change, water quality, and chemical safety, and "safe and sustainable water resources", the document said.

The latest EPA budget plan would abolish programs that study known environmental hazards including lead, poor indoor air quality, and radiation.

Others programmes that help protect Americans from cancer would also face the axe -- including the $ 1.34 million indoor air radon programme which works to protect the public against the invisible gas that is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

Radon kills 21,000 people annually, according to the EPA.