PHILADELPHIA, March 12, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- In response to the Trump administration's plan to cut the Environmental Protection Agency's budget by 31.2 percent next year, American Federation of Government Employees Council 238 President Gary Morton decried the "dirty budget," and called on Congress to fully fund the EPA.
"President Trump's proposal for next year continues a troubling trend of gutting America's front-line defense of clean air and safe water," said AFGE Council 238 President Gary Morton, who represents nearly 8,000 EPA workers nationwide. "Since his election, the president and his administration have set their sights on rolling back our life-saving work and starving us of the resources we need to succeed – and it must be stopped."
The Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal follows prior years' plans to cut the EPA's budget by 31 and 30 percent in FY 2017 and FY 2018, respectively. The proposed cuts also arrived just weeks after the end of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, which sent thousands of EPA workers home without pay – and kept many on the job for 35 days without compensation.
"Our sisters and brothers joined the EPA because they believe in the work we do, but the constant attacks on our agency and our livelihoods are crushing morale and hurting productivity," said Morton. "We just want to do the job we were hired to do and protect human health and the environment for our children and generations to come."
Under the 2020 budget, EPA staffing would be capped at 12,415, nearly 2,000 fewer than FY 2019 and a full 32 percent below the staffing levels Council 238 had recommended for 2020. Currently, staffing levels are lower than they were during President Ronald Regan's final year in office, making monitoring and enforcement of environmental protection even harder on the agency.
"The EPA is the front line of defense in protecting drinking water and clean air for every single American. This budget proposes to slash 2,000 positions, reducing the number of environmental emergency first responders nationwide at a time they are critically needed," said Morton. "We are the people who come to disaster sites like hurricanes to monitor the safety and toxicity of the water flooding local communities, and we save lives. Congress must fully fund our budget, and should be boosting our resources – not drastically cutting them."
Trump's budget comes at a time when the administration has already failed to fully spend down Congress' previous appropriations for the EPA, continuing the trend of underfunding the agency for more than 10 years.
"Year after year the Trump administration comes after our agency and the life-saving work we do," said Morton. "We are already cut to the bone, and now the president wants to gut us further. We need allies in Congress who believe in clean air and safe water to stand up to the administration and give the EPA the funding we need to protect the environment for generations to come."
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.
SOURCE The American Federation of Government Employees