WASHINGTON, April 2, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler will testify in front of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee about the Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal for the EPA. The hearing – Budget: Environmental Protection Agency – is the first opportunity legislators have had to question the administration on the proposed 31.2 percent cut to the agency's budget next year.
"To properly support our work, the EPA must be funded at around $11 billion with 16,500 full-time workers – a far cry from the outlandish $6.1 billion proposed by the president," said American Federation of Government Employees Council 238 President Gary Morton. "We are already grossly underfunded and understaffed, and any additional cuts will prevent us from fulfilling our mission to protect children's health and the environment."
President Trump's budget for 2020 would cut $2.7 billion from the agency and comes not long after the EPA failed to spend down the funds appropriated in FY 2018. With staffing already down to less than 14,400 nationwide from more than 18,000 at the turn of the century, Council 238 fears further cuts will hinder their ability to invest in infrastructure needs, enforcement, and the life- and cost-saving regulations administered by the EPA.
Thankfully for EPA workers and the citizens that rely on them, there are members of Congress who are not happy about the proposed budget.
- "For decades, Americans have been the beneficiaries of reliable clean water, air, and land," said Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois. "The progress we've made to clean up our environment has been hard fought, and the men and women of the Environmental Protection Agency have been on the front lines, ensuring that our resources stay safe and productive. But the Trump Administration is proposing take the 'cop off the beat' for big polluters. The draconian staffing and budget cuts that they continue to push make the work of the EPA more difficult and threaten the health and safety of every American."
- "The Trump Administration is doing everything it can to permanently damage the EPA's capacity to regulate and hold polluters accountable," said Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine. "Gutting staff levels of the EPA means communities won't get the help they need in order to protect public health. As Vice Chair of the Interior Appropriations Committee, I've made my opposition to these cuts known to Secretary Wheeler and I will fight to restore this funding and for congressional oversight throughout the FY 2020 budget process."
- "Public health and safety should be the federal governments utmost priority, and unfortunately to the Trump Administration it is not," said Rep. Brenda Lawrence of Michigan. "The employees of the Environmental Protection Agency have been working hard to protect our environment, and as a member of the House Appropriations Committee I will work just as hard to protect them against these unnecessary cuts throughout this process."
Morton echoed the members of Congress supporting funding the EPA, saying, "Every year we're able to save 230,000 lives through the Clean Air Act. We provide $30 in health benefits to the American public for every $1 invested in compliance. We work tirelessly to ensure the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land we live on is clean and safe for all citizens. If the EPA continues to be underfunded, understaffed, and unable to fully exercise its statutory and regulatory authorities, our communities and environment will be at a greater risk."
"We need members of Congress who believe in clean air and safe drinking water to support the agency that protects children's health and the environment – before it's too late," added Morton.
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, including 250,000 at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
SOURCE American Federation of Government Employees