Union Chief Strikes Back at the ‘Insanity’ of Trump’s Budget Cuts at the EPA

Union Chief Strikes Back at the ‘Insanity’ of Trump’s Budget Cuts at the EPA

In a Yale e360 interview, John O’Grady, head of the employees’ union at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, rips into the Trump administration for its budget-slashing proposal that he says is aimed at destroying the agency that safeguards the nation’s air and water. 

The Trump administration’s proposed budget contains drastic cuts to many government departments, but few are being hit as hard as the Environmental Protection Agency, which is slated for a funding reduction of 31 percent. A host of programs would be significantly pared back, including the enforcement of pollution laws, climate change research, the cleanup of Superfund sites, and the repair and construction of facilities that provide clean drinking water to U.S. towns and cities. The list of programs that would be completely eliminated includes the cleanup of the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay,  the Clean Power Plan, the Energy Star energy efficiency program, and the Office of Environmental Justice.

EPA union head John O'Grady.

EPA union head John O’Grady.

John O’Grady is president of the American Federation of Government Employees Council 238, which represents roughly 10,000 EPA employees nationwide. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, O’Grady rails against the proposed cuts, saying they will lead to dirtier water and air across the country. “We’re going to have Flint, Michigan, multiplied by some factor of 10 or 100,” says O’Grady. He maintains that while pollution may be less visible today compared to decades ago­ — “We don’t see rivers catch on fire now, we don’t see valleys filled with drums of chemicals” — the need for the EPA is no less great.

O’Grady says the true intent of the Trump administration is not to streamline the EPA, but to destroy it.  “I believe that [EPA Administrator Scott] Pruitt is in place to deconstruct the agency,” says O’Grady. “These individuals and the administration and those that support them in Congress are dead set on rolling back environmental and human health protections to the 1960s.”

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Trump wants to end funding of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup. Here’s who’s fighting back.


March 18
When President Trump’s budget plan hit the Internet at midnight Wednesday, Virginia and Maryland environmental activists could not believe what they saw. A total elimination of the Chesapeake Bay program seemed impossible to them, considering the success of the federally funded six-state partnership over the past 15 years.

But in a two-sentence section of its budget plan, the White House dismissed the massive cleanup of a water body so large it can easily be seen from space as a “regional effort” that should not be funded by Washington.

So the activists got to work, along with elected officials from throughout the region, planning rallies, firing off dire warnings and promising to petition theRepublican majority in Congress, which has the ultimate say over whether to defund bay restoration.

Continue reading “Trump wants to end funding of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup. Here’s who’s fighting back.”

Trump’s budget would torpedo Obama’s investments in climate change and clean energy

Trump’s budget would torpedo Obama’s investments in climate change and clean energy

March 16 at 7:01 AM

From the elimination of major programs to the shifting of scientific priorities, the Trump administration budget proposal unveiled Thursday presents a wholesale repudiation of two main Obama administration objectives: fighting climate change and stoking a revolution in renewable energy.

At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, $250 million in coastal and ocean grants and programs — many of which help ready communities for rising seas and a warmer, more acidic ocean — would be cut. Satellite programs would be trimmed. The proposed cuts, previously reported on by The Washington Post, have shaken the country’s climate science community and triggered an outcry.

At NASA, Earth sciences research would take a hit, and several research programs aimed at gathering information about climate change would be eliminated.

Continue reading “Trump’s budget would torpedo Obama’s investments in climate change and clean energy”

Trump Requests Dramatic Budget Cuts for the Rest of This Year, Too

Trump Requests Dramatic Budget Cuts for the Rest of This Year, Too

OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said that, “Without additional appropriations, our national security is at risk.”OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said that, “Without additional appropriations, our national security is at risk.” Carolyn Kaster/AP

President Trump called for $54 billion in cuts to domestic agencies in his fiscal 2018 budget released Thursday, but the White House was not done in suggesting spending reductions. In a supplemental request to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., also sent Thursday, Trump suggested an immediate cut of $18 billion to non-defense discretionary spending to partially offset increases in fiscal 2017 appropriations for other Trump priorities.

The president requested a total of $30 billion extra for the Defense Department — $24.9 billion for its base budget and $5.1 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations — to “begin a sustained effort to rebuild the U.S. Armed Forces.” He also asked Congress for an extra $3 billion to fund his executive orders tasking the Homeland Security Department with ramping up border security and immigration enforcement. The increased appropriations would go toward constructing a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, increasing detention capacity, and completing the initial steps in Trump’s proposed hiring surge at Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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Trump Budget Would Abolish 19 Agencies, Cut Thousands of Federal Jobs

Trump Budget Would Abolish 19 Agencies, Cut Thousands of Federal Jobs

President Trump met with his Cabinet on Monday prior to the release of his budget proposal.
President Trump met with his Cabinet on Monday prior to the release of his budget proposal. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

With the aim of “making government work again,” the Trump White House on Thursday unveiled a $1.1 trillion budget blueprint for discretionary spending in fiscal 2017 and 2018 that would abolish 19 agencies and eliminate thousands of agency jobs.

The 54-page “America First” document, focused primarily on fiscal 2018, would boost the Defense Department and related programs at Energy by $54 billion, and Homeland Security by $2.8 billion. It would offset such increases by cutting the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development by $10.1 billion (28 percent) and the Environmental Protection Agency by $2.6 billion (31 percent). The latter cut would eliminate approximately 3,200 positions, according to the document.

The agency-by-agency plans include eliminating dozens of grant programs at the Education and Commerce departments—many of them related to climate change. And Trump would eliminate the following agencies:

The African Development Foundation; the Appalachian Regional Commission; the Chemical Safety Board; the Corporation for National and Community Service; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Delta Regional Authority; the Denali Commission; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the Inter-American Foundation; the U.S. Trade and Development Agency; the Legal Services Corporation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation; the Northern Border Regional Commission; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; the United States Institute of Peace; the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness; and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Continue reading “Trump Budget Would Abolish 19 Agencies, Cut Thousands of Federal Jobs”

EPA Employees Vow to ‘Stand up! Fight back!’ Against New Administration, Budget Cuts


EPA Employees Vow to ‘Stand up! Fight back!’ Against New Administration, Budget Cuts

Eric Katz

Nestled between their agency’s headquarters and their president’s luxury hotel, Environmental Protection Agency employees gathered on Wednesday to protest the new administration and boo their new administrator.

“Stand up! Fight back!” hundreds of EPA employees and other environmental advocates chanted as temperatures dipped well below freezing in downtown Washington, D.C.

“Mother Earth to [EPA Administrator Scott] Pruitt: ‘Where did I go wrong?” read one sign; “EPA doesn’t allow corporations to crap in your water,” proclaimed another. A simpler sign got right to the point: “No EPA cuts.”

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4 questions about Trump’s agency reorg order

4 questions about Trump’s agency reorg order

March 14, 2017 (Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/AP)
The White House’s much-anticipated plan to reshape federal agencies landed with a leaden thud on March 13, promising a tectonic shift in the executive branch.

The new executive order calls for agency leaders to submit a plan to the Office of Management and Budget within 180 days to reorganize their operations, possibly by eliminating components and merging offices.

While the order lays out a broad plan for how officials are meant to move forward, many questions remain. Here are four things President Trump’s reorganization plan still needs to answer.

Who will make the reorganization plans?

Per the executive order, agency leaders have until roughly Sept. 9 to submit plans “to reorganize the agency, if appropriate, in order to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of that agency.”

But while the Trump administration continues to take shape, several agency leaders have yet to be appointed. Temporary agency heads were put in place to maintain agency functions ever since Jan. 20, but it’s unclear whether they will be made permanent leaders, will craft the reorganization plans or whether the White House intends future candidates to craft those plans once they are appointed.

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Brown: Clearing the air on people, issues hit by Trump’s EPA cuts


Frank Lagunas, a chemist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (right with bullhorn) speaks at a recent protest rally over proposed federal budget cuts. Photo supplied.

Mark Brown@MarkBrownCST | email

The 1,000 or so employees of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who cover a six-state region from Chicago may epitomize the faceless, nameless federal bureaucracy.

Few of us come in contact with them in their daily work or understand what they do, which doesn’t make that work any less important.

That’s why I sat down with four of those employees last week to put a face on the agency that President Donald Trump’s administration is looking to dismantle.

Felicia Chase, 39, is a geologist who has worked at the EPA for nine years, currently in water quality enforcement. It’s her job to ensure local communities take steps to prevent stormwater and sewage discharges from polluting local rivers and streams.


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Trump Executive Order May Foul US Drinking Water Supply


Trump Executive Order May Foul US Drinking Water Supply

The 2015 Clean Water Rule indicated that federal agencies could regulate certain types of smaller or more isolated waters, like seasonal streams and nearby wetlands. Here, a bayou in Louisiana.

Credit: Riley McKissack/Shutterstock

Pres. Donald Trump insists he wants clean water. In a speech to Congress last week, he vowed to “promote clean air and clean water.” And in an interview with The New York Times last November, he said, “Clean water, crystal clean water is vitally important.” Ironically, though, the president just signed an executive order that could pollute many Americans’ drinking water sources.

On February 28, Trump ordered a review of the Clean Water Rule, with the aim of rolling it back. Pres. Barack Obama finalized the Clean Water Rule in June 2015 to clear up confusion over which water bodies the federal government can regulate under the 1972 Clean Water Act, the main federal law for water pollution. Now, legal experts say, Trump appears to want to restrict what types of waters are regulated, much more so than the Clean Water Rule and the regulations before it. Specifically, his executive order—if and when it leads to a final rule—would likely cut protections for many wetlands and smaller streams that help keep U.S. waters clean. All of this could result in dirtier drinking water supplies for millions of Americans. “Almost certainly, some water bodies will face increased pollution under a narrower federal Clean Water Rule,” Daniel Esty, professor of environmental law and policy at Yale Law School, wrote to Scientific American. “It would leave some critical water resources less protected.” Of course, federal agencies will first need to go through a lengthy rule-making process before Trump’s directive becomes a final rule.

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Why Trump’s Budget Cuts Are Even More Severe Than Advertised

Why Trump’s Budget Cuts Are Even More Severe Than Advertised

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

This week, the Trump administration will roll out its plan to cut $54 billion from domestic federal agencies in fiscal 2018.

The figure represents a reduction from spending levels under the current continuing resolution and within the framework of the most recent budget deal reached in 2015. When examining the cuts in a broader context, however, the scaling back of funding for federal agencies is much more severe.

The 2011 Budget Control Act instituted strict spending caps for both defense and non-defense agencies. In fiscal years 2014 through 2017, lawmakers agreed to raise those caps via two different budget agreements. In fiscal 2018, Congress has reached no such deal, so the original caps are set to be reinstated. That means, statutorily, domestic agencies would see their cumulative topline funding reduced by $3 billion in the next fiscal year, from about $519 billion to $516 billion.

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