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.

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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”

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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Trump’s plan to dismember government


Trump’s plan to dismember government

  • Trump is looking to redefine the relationship between government and citizens
  • His budget will propose dramatic cuts in federal environmental and education programs

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump plans to dismember government one dollar at a time.

His first budget — expected to be unveiled later this week — will mark Trump’s most significant attempt yet to remold national life and the relationship between federal and state power.

It would codify an assault on regulatory regimes over the environment, business and education bequeathed by former President Barack Obama, and attempt to halt decades of steadily growing government reach. 

All presidential budgets are aspirational documents — and few emerge from Congress in the same shape as they arrived on Capitol Hill.

But Trump’s first budget will make more of a statement than most debut spending blueprints by other new presidents. The White House has made clear it intends to use the document to usher in the radical political changes that powered Trump’s upstart, anti-establishment campaign last year.

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Trump budget will reportedly call for deep cuts to federal workforce


Trump budget will reportedly call for deep cuts to federal workforce

March 13, 2017 (Photo Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
More rumblings of the president’s anticipated budget cast a cloud of uncertainty for federal employees on March 13, as rumors of stark workforce cuts began to swirl.

A story from The Washington Post claims that the budget — which will be unveiled on March 16 — calls for “a historic contraction of the federal workforce,” in the form of steep cuts in discretionary spending.

Federal Times
Trump’s budget: $54B boost in defense spending at expense of civilian agencies

“This would be the first time the government has executed cuts of this magnitude — and all at once — since the drawdown following World War II,” the story said.

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Trump’s Climate Agenda: Do Less, With Less


Trump’s Climate Agenda: Do Less, With Less

From the EPA to the White House, from the budget to the federal register, his administration is dismantling climate-change regulation and the science that supports it.

Carlo Allegri / Reuters
 Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seems like a refined and intelligent man. Speaking in public, he has an easy manner, a winsome smirk, and a pleasant drawl. Even though Senator Susan Collins opposed his nomination to lead the agency, the Republican senator made sure to note that he is bright and enjoyable, and that she might support him elsewhere in government.
He seems reasonable and genteel—all you’d want in southern lawyer.

Yet on Thursday, Pruitt let slip an opinion that was ugly, and false, and ugly in its falsehood. Carbon dioxide, he said, is not a “primary contributor” to global warming. In his opinion, the topic requires more study and debate.

With this comment, Pruitt finally confirms what many had long suspected: that he broadly rejects the mainstream scientific consensus around climate change. As I wrote Thursday, decades of research have found that carbon dioxide is a primary driver of modern-day global warming. Pruitt’s comment is ugly because he is discarding all the work of discovery that got us there—all those decades of careful observation, onerous computation, and hard-won consensus—without providing an equivalent body of evidence. He is embracing the concept of “study and debate” as a stall, refusing to cede to what actual study and debate have found. It flies in the face of discovery, of curiosity, and of fact.

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New Trump Order Will Ask Agencies to Eliminate Waste, Workforce Redundancies


New Trump Order Will Ask Agencies to Eliminate Waste, Workforce Redundancies

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

President Trump on Monday will issue a new executive order tasking federal agencies with cutting waste through agency reevaluation and reorganization.

The order will require a “thorough examination” of every executive branch agency to identify “where money can be saved and services improved,” according to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Part of the proposed solution could result in a federal workforce reduction, as Spicer said the review could determine there are “too many people performing a function.”

Trump and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney will ask agencies to “review themselves” to conduct the “long overdue reorganization,” Spicer said. There is no set number of programs or dollars the administration is seeking to eliminate, but the goal is to find government functions that are “bloated or duplicative or frankly just outdated or in need of technological advances.” The administration may ultimately recommend the elimination of wholesale agencies.

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