Staffers, environmentalists decry 'devastating' Trump EPA cuts
Rep. Garcia says cuts would create ‘an illusion that there is still an EPA’
By Ted Cox
Members of Congress joined activists and Environmental Protection Agency staffers in decrying President Trump’s proposed cuts to the agency budget Tuesday at a rally in Chicago.
“The proposed budget cuts would decimate sections of the EPA,” said U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia of Chicago in pointing out Trump’s 2020 proposal would trim agency funding by 31 percent. “It would essentially eviscerate the office of research and development,” he added, while the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative would see its funding “slashed” 90 percent, from $300 million to $30 million, a cut he called “shameful.”
Garcia said such funding levels would create “an illusion that there is still an EPA,” when “in fact, the EPA would be reduced to the shell of such an agency.”
According to Garcia, Trump’s budget would trim 2,000 EPA positions nationwide, on top of 1,000 lost last year.
“The Chicago office is short 120 scientists and engineers,” said Felicia Chase, vice president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 704, which represents 900 EPA employees across the Midwest. Calling the proposed cuts “devastating” and adding that agency staffing amounts to “a mere skeleton crew,” Chase said, “The EPA can no longer effectively protect the Great Lakes and other great water bodies, such as the Ohio River.”
She added, “The health of the air that we breathe and the water that we rely on in our communities are at great risk.”
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston called Trump “the most anti-environment president we have seen in modern history.” She blamed his positions on “cronies” such as EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal-industry lobbyist.
Donald Trump is “the most anti-environment president we have seen in modern history.”
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (One Illinois/Ted Cox)
“The good news is it’s dead on arrival in the House,” said U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Trump’s budget proposal. Citing his own background as a scientist involved in fighting climate change, the Downers Grove Democrat called the plan to cut 15 percent for enforcement of existing EPA regulations “unethical.”
“The only question we need to ask ourselves every day is what will our grandchildren think of us?” Casten added.
“We will not stand for Trump’s dirty-work budget proposal,” said Kady McFadden, deputy director of the Sierra Club’s Illinois Chapter.
“We know that the public is on our side,” she added, in demanding that air and water supplies be protected.
“We have an opportunity to stand up for the environment and stand up for the people,” Schakowsky said, adding that she believed Republicans in Congress will join in voting to restore funding. “There is no Planet B.”