Lawmakers pan proposed EPA budget cuts

The Trump Administration’s FY18 budget plan for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) faced criticism from both sides of the aisle last week during an appropriations subcommittee hearing on the proposal.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said that while the administration favors “clean water and fixing our outdated infrastructure,” the agency is implementing a “back to the basics agenda” that aims to refocus EPA on its core statutory responsibilities.

President Trump’s budget plan would cut overall EPA funding by more than $2 billion next year, or more than 30 percent, though spending on the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs) would remain flat.

Both Democratic and Republican members of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee used the hearing to express concerns about the broad overall cuts included in the proposal.

Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) said the budget would cut programs that are “vitally important,” calling the Water Infrastructure Finance and Investment Act (WIFIA) program a “game changer” to address water infrastructure investment needs, and “a nice complement” to the SRF programs.

The Appropriations Committee will begin developing its own FY18 spending bills in the coming weeks, and its proposal for EPA is expected to be friendlier to the agency than the budget proposed by the Trump Administration.

Some information in this news update appeared in the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies’ Monday Morning Briefing on June 19.

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