Documents obtained by The National Association of Clean Air Agencies from an anonymous source have revealed President Donald Trump’s plans to make massive budget and personnel cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency. This news comes amidst the controversy stirred up by a statement made by incoming EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, having declared that human activity is not a contributor to climate change.
The proposed cuts themselves would entail slashing the agency’s already tight $8.1-billion budget by 25 percent, and cut its 15,376-member workforce by 20 percent. The EPA’s budget and manpower has already been pared back to late-1980s levels, prompting concern over whether or not the agency would be able to effectively function.
38 different programs would be eliminated outright, including support for villages in Alaska being threatened by the effects of climate change, water quality testing at public beaches, and the US Global Change Research Program, a program responsible for producing comprehensive reports on the domestic impact of climate change. Programs representing over $600 million in state grants would also be cut.
"Here, they’re not even trying to hide anything," remarks Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. "It’s a triple whammy: cutting EPA, cutting very effective programs, and cutting substantially the state and local governmental programs." National Geographic’s Michael Greshko estimates that the savings made by the cuts would fund the US Department of Defense for just a little over 30 hours — a branch of the government that is expected to receive a $54 billion boost to the over half-trillion dollar budget that it already has.
Incoming EPA head Scott Pruitt, a known climate-change denier, also stirred up a hornet’s nest when he made his views on man-made climate change known while speaking on CNBC’s Squawk Box:
"I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so, no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see."
This statement runs contrary to the current scientific consensus, as the vast majority of climate scientists, backed by decades of data, research and studies, agree that the climate is heating up, and human-produced emissions are to blame. Climate advocates are pointing to Pruitt’s admission as proof that he is unfit to head the EPA:
“Anyone who denies over a century’s worth of established science and basic facts is unqualified to be the administrator of the EPA,” says Senator Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.