Backyard Talk

What does Trump’s budget mean for Environmental Justice?

The Trump administration’s 2019 budget (October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019) has serious consequences for the protection of the environment and of people. Trump’s budget plan cuts the Environmental Protection Agency’s spending by 23 percent, eliminating dozens of programs. The agency’s budget for the Office of Science and Technology is being nearly halved, while the Human Health Risk Assessment program will face reductions close to 40 percent. Other programs, such as several voluntary emissions-reductions programs and climate change research initiatives, will be eliminated.
The Superfund program, while considered to be a priority by EPA Administrator Scott Pruit, will still be subject to 25 percent cuts. Pruitt’s statement on the Superfund program emphasizes that cuts will come from administrative costs and the expedition of cleanups. The EPA’s other hazardous site restoration project, known as Brownfields, will shrink by 36 percent.
Trump’s cuts to several important EPA programs and subsequent shrinking of the agency as a whole sends a strong message about his regard for environmental health of Americans. Many environmentalists consider this move towards less health protective policies to be dangerous. The administration is instead prioritizing military and defense spending, hashing out 686 billion to the Department of Defense.
Aside from cuts, the Trump administration announced the end of the Clinton-era “once in, always in” policy on pollution. Environmental activists and lawyers are criticizing this move, warning that it could increase exposure to hazardous air pollutions, particularly among vulnerable populations. Former environmental justice head of the EPA, Mustafa Ali, said in an interview with Earther, “[The elimination of the ‘once in, always in’ policy is] really going to be killing people. You’re going to have all types of public health problems.”
These concerns being raised are valid, as the lack of funding to crucial programs mean that the most vulnerable of populations will be most affected. Considering that our president is ignoring the pressing issue of climate change, we must take matters in our own hands. More than ever, we need to work to protect our communities from the threat of pollution and toxic contamination. By supporting local groups that are putting pressure on government officials to produce life-saving policies, you can make sure that your community is safe and healthy.