(WASHINGTON)—The leadership of EPA’s largest union, the American Federation of Government Employees, today stressed their steadfast opposition to the massive cuts proposed in both the 2011 and 2012 federal budgets, and stated that the reductions represent the latest volley in the war on federal workers that will result in less protection for the American public.
“Numerous organizations such as the American Lung Association, the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, American Public Health Association, and the Trust for America’s Health have warned that rollbacks in environmental protections will harm the most vulnerable Americans,” Orzehoskie said. “This country faces a jobs crisis that can’t be solved by these draconian budget reductions.”
“Less than 25 percent of EPA’s budget pays federal salaries and benefits, including travel expenses. The rest of the budget pays for contractors and grantees, and funds state, local and tribal authorities that create jobs and programs that promote clean air and water,” said Council Treasurer John O’Grady. “The waste water treatment plants and drinking water facilities that Americans depend upon for the water they drink, are wearing out and in desperate need of repairs and upgrades. By investing in basic public utilities, we ensure a better quality of life for our children, and create real American jobs now where they’re needed most.”
Union officials further assert that proposed cuts of $2.64 billion—or nearly one-third of EPA’s overall 2011 budget—undermine the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, State Revolving Loan Fund Program and Brownfields redevelopment.
“Cuts to the State Revolving Fund do little to reduce the overall federal budget, because these are dollars loaned to local communities who repay most of the money back to the federal government,” added Orzehoskie.
“It should be no surprise that enforcement of our environmental laws should loom large as a target for radical budget cutters. Hammering EPA’s budget puts both the environment and human health at risk. These cuts will especially harm our nation’s children, women of child-bearing age, people with asthma, heart disease and diabetes, and the elderly,” Council Executive Vice President Tom Link said.
“Cuts of the magnitude proposed by the House will make it difficult if not impossible for EPA to respond effectively to any future environmental crises that may occur on the scale of Hurricane Katrina or the Gulf Oil Spill,” Orzehoskie added.