EPA Chief Grilled over Budget, Staffing Cuts

Categories: The Insider

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler got an earful from Congress as he defended the administration’s proposed cuts of 31% to the EPA’s 2020 budget. Our union is strongly opposed to these cuts and issued a press release ahead of Wheeler’s testimony urging Congress to reject these cuts and support the EPA’s mission of protecting human health and the environment.   


Testifying before two Congressional budget hearings on April 2 and April 3, Wheeler – a former coal industry lobbyist – defended the steep cuts that would eliminate important air, water, and land protection programs and slash EPA staffing – eliminating positions for scientists, engineers, those enforcing environmental protection laws and others by nearly 2,000 nationwide.    


The lawmakers, however, weren’t having any of it. They told him the administration’s proposed $2.8 billion cuts would put all of us at risk.     


"I'm equally dismayed your agency would endanger public health and safety by prioritizing the agendas of big polluters," quipped House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.). “Why is the Trump administration steering our country in the wrong direction? It’s pretty obvious these cuts will result in dirtier air and weakened public health.”    


“EPA can’t shrink anymore if it is going to fulfill its role to protect public health,” said House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Chair Betty McCollum (D-Minn). “The president's budget for fiscal year 2020 completely fails to support the EPA's mission.”    


"It's clear to me this administration is turning its back on enforcing our environmental laws and while that's friendlier to industry, it's a fire alarm for our air quality and water quality," said Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.). "This administration is literally taking the cops off the beat."    


Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) called out the administration’s goal of rolling back progress on pollution and undoing everything the previous administration did.    

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) brought up the massive understaffing and the lack of hiring in Region 5, which has more than 100 open positions that the EPA won’t fill.     


Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) criticized the administration for proposing to eliminate the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay restoration program. He said doing so would abdicate the federal government’s role in restoring the bay and the livelihoods that depend on it.    


Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) rejected the zeroing out all EPA funding for the Puget Sound Geographic Initiative and the abandoning of the federal government’s role in restoring the Puget Sound.   


We need to protect the EPA   

The EPA’s mission is to protect public health, not polluters. Call your members of Congress and tell them to reject these 31% cuts. Ask them to fund the EPA at $11 billion and hire a total of 16,500 full time employees at EPA. 


Senate: 1-855-910-9586      

House: 1-855-860-9902       


Please make sure you are not on government time or using government equipment (your work email or cell phone) when contacting your lawmaker.  

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