President Donald Trump’s administration has ordered a freeze on some Environmental Protection Agency grants and contracts to states, as the department braces for more dramatic changes going forward.
“This is exactly what we were concerned about in the beginning,” said Wenonah Hauter, head of Food & Water Watch. “It’s a war on the EPA.”
The EPA under a Donald Trump presidency will be everything he promised, according to an EPA action plan drafted by Myron Ebell, a member of Trump’s transition team who’s also a director at the libertarian think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute.
A “wish list” for the EPA targets regulations such as carbon emission rules that limit the amount of greenhouse gases allowed from power plants, and chopping $193 million in climate programs. The plan further calls for a change in how the EPA uses science and calls for the agency to stop funding scientific research over conflicts-of-interest concerns that the regulator should not also be involved with funding the science behind the regulations.
Marlo Lewis of CEI says the changes are welcome.
“It’s a good idea for a new administration that is thinking about a new direction for the EPA to want to take a pause, a time out, and just look at all of these first before spending taxpayers’ money,” Lewis said.
Axios.com was the first to report the plan, which a source familiar with the document tells CNN has since been revised.
But environmentalists say it’s clear the agency is in for hard times.
“The EPA is already operating under constrained budgets, and for example we already feel they are constrained in their ability to implement the safe water and clean water acts. Additional cuts would further constrain their ability,” says Lynn Thorp of Clean Water Action. She warns such moves “would make it even harder for EPA to prevent situations like the water crisis in Flint Michigan, and others.”
Trump’s nominee to lead the agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, has sued the EPA numerous times. He awaits a vote in the Senate.