1. Update
  2. Environment & Energy

Proposed Budget Cuts Harmful to Communities and Our Climate

By Emily Wirzba, March 13, 2017


We are deeply alarmed at the indiscriminate and shortsighted proposed cuts to funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that are reported to be in President Trump’s budget proposal. These cuts would be catastrophic for the climate, God’s creation, and vulnerable communities.

UPDATED on March 16th

President Trump’s “skinny budget” was released on March 16th. His proposed cuts to the EPA budget were even greater than expected, shrinking the total EPA budget by 31% and cutting $2.6 billion.

In addition to what is written about below, his proposed budget will eliminate the Energy Star program (which improves energy efficiency), end all funding for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup project, halt a grant program that helps cities and states deal with air pollution, and eliminate the environmental justice office. In sum, more than 50 EPA programs would be eliminated.

Beyond what affects the EPA, Trump’s overall budget zeroes out everything from United Nations climate change programs (including the Green Climate Fund), NASA’s Earth science programs, and the Health and Human Services’ Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

See below for the rest of FCNL’s analysis:

It is expected that President Trump’s proposal would cut the EPA's workforce by 20%, in the name of budget savings and changing US priorities. In reality, the EPA’s budget is only two-tenths of one percent of federal spending.

Climate research is critical to protecting our economy, public health, and national security. Yet with the proposed cuts we expect to see, research on climate change at the EPA would drastically be reduced. The EPA’s Climate, Air, and Energy research would fall from $91.7 million to $45.7 million. The EPA’s Office of Research and Development budget would fall by over 40%, with scientific research in the fields of climate change, air and water quality, and chemical safety bearing the brunt of these cuts. The EPA’s $50 million grant program for environmental scientists at universities would be eliminated.

We expect that the proposed budget would also halt work on President Obama’s signature Clean Power Plan (CPP), which imposes limits on the carbon emissions coming from power plants. It is crucial that the Clean Power Plan remain intact to ensure that the US meets its obligations under the Paris climate deal. Once fully implemented, by 2030, the CPP would reduce carbon pollution from the power sector by 32% below 2005 levels, and go a long way towards meeting the US pledge to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% by 2025.

Additionally, it’s expected that the proposed cuts to EPA would:

  • End funding for the collection of data on methane emissions – a potent greenhouse gas – from the oil and gas industry.

  • Eliminate the EPA’s Global Climate Change Research Program, which coordinates climate research by 13 federal organizations.

  • Zero-out funding for vulnerable communities by eradicating funding for Alaska native villages, many which are already facing an existential threat due to climate change and sea level rise.

  • Eliminate grants to clean up brownfields – former industrial sites that are environmentally contaminated with dangerous chemicals or radioactive waste – often located in low-income communities and communities of color.

  • Cut funding for local wastewater treatment facilities, which provides a vital service in renovating infrastructure and testing for safe drinking water.

  • Reduce a program that funds local air-quality monitoring, vital information for families that have kids with asthma and senior citizens.

  • Terminate environmental justice grants, funding for small minority businesses, and environmental education programs.

Regardless of what Trump proposes, it is Congress that actually has the authority to write and pass a budget. We urge members of Congress to support funding for the EPA that allows the agency to address climate change, protect vulnerable communities, and care for God’s creation.

Emily Wirzba

  • Legislative Representative, Sustainable Energy and Environment

Emily Wirzba leads FCNL’s lobbying work to achieve bipartisan recognition of climate change and action in Congress. Emily meets with members of Congress and their staff to promote FCNL's environmental priorities. She also works closely with FCNL's network across the country to organize constituents to lobby, write, and advocate for bipartisan environmental action in Congress. She currently serves as co-chair of the Washington Interreligious Staff Community's Energy and Ecology Working Group.