Diane Brower: EPA cuts would imperil citizens, public lands | SteamboatToday.com

Diane Brower: EPA cuts would imperil citizens, public lands

As a candidate, Donald Trump vowed to get rid of the EPA. As president, he has used every means at his disposal to make that a reality.

He has taken actions to revoke the Clean Power Plan, to prevent climate change action and delay implementation of mercury and air toxicity standards. And now there's the 2018 budget that is proposing to slash EPA funding by 31 percent.

There are cuts to scientific programs that would slash 84 percent of EPA's budget for the Science Advisory Board. The EPA has already removed some scientific climate data from its websites.

As a result, local folks will be more vulnerable to and less prepared for extreme weather events. Lack of data will hinder other agencies' abilities to monitor green house gas emissions and forecast floods and hurricanes that are now facing the Gulf coast in Texas and Louisiana.

Our state and regional air quality programs will also be impacted. Important funding for local air monitoring comes from EPA. It allows local health officials to warn of days when the air is dangerous for children with asthma, when ozone levels are a health hazard and visibility level are degrading the vistas that our local economy depends upon. The budget for these EPA programs would be cut by one-third.

Trump wants to cut EPA's enforcement office by 40 percent, arguing that states should oversee enforcement of rules. But this budget would also cut the grants that allow states to conduct that enforcement by 45 percent.

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For example, Sunoco Pipeline agreed to pay $1 million for a 2012 spill that sent gasoline into two waterways near Wellington, Ohio. Penalties such as this won't be assessed or collected in the future.

There are more than 1,300 toxic Superfund waste sites and 450,000 brownfield hazard sites across America, especially in the West. The president's budget would cut the Superfund cleanup program by 20 percent — $194 million.

Communities like Amesbury, Massachusetts, and Durango, which count on federal funding to keep citizens safe from groundwater contamination, would be cut. These local communities would also lack funds for redevelopment and restoration of damaged areas.

Trump's budget would eliminate more than $400 million for programs to clean up America's greatest yet imperiled bodies of water and rivers — like the Colorado River, the Great Lakes and Puget Sound. Critical estuaries and river environments that we depend on to provide us with crabs, fish, shrimp and recreation like Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf Coast and our rivers will be harmed.

Trump has ordered review and "elimination" of the rules that protect tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. Defunding this rule could lead to pollution of the important wetlands in Colorado that store and deliver our winter snow in the summer and fall.

As Congress embarks on the next budget process, tell your elected officials that you expect them to protect our citizens, our livelihood, our health, our public lands and not those who pollute.  Call Cory Gardner at 202-224-5941. Call Michael Bennet at 202-224-5852. Call Scott Tipton at 202-225-4671.

Diane Brower

Steamboat Springs


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