Protect Our Health and Safety: No Funding Cuts for the EPA!
One of Congress’ key priorities in early 2018 is to pass a spending bill that would determine the funding of critical agencies that we rely on to advance science, keep our air and water clean, and protect children’s health. Unfortunately, the proposals currently on the table for funding our government would slash the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), therefore threatening the health and safety of Americans across the U.S.
The deadline for Congress to pass a spending bill that funds our government is January 19th, so we need your help now to ensure that funding for the EPA is protected. Here is a reminder of where we are in the process, and most importantly, what we need from you.
In early September, the House of Representatives passed a spending bill that would cut the EPA budget to its lowest funding level since 2008. In the House bill, the agency's research division would lose more than $100 million in critical funding. Other cuts would directly impact communities of color, including a 15 percent reduction to the Office of Environmental Justice, which works to ensure that certain communities don’t bear a disproportionate share of environmental risk. The House bill was also riddled with poison pill anti-science “policy riders,” or additional strings attached that sideline science.
The Senate Interior and Environment Appropriations Committee bill released in November isn’t much better. It would slash the funding levels of the EPA by nearly $150 million from its enacted fiscal year 17 (FY 17) funding levels. Under the Environmental Programs and Management Account, funding for compliance and enforcement—both critical for deterring and holding industry accountable for polluting our air, water, and land—would be cut by 10%. The Science and Technology Account, which funds EPA research that addresses a wide range of environmental and health concerns, would be cut by more than 10%. And communities of color would be disproportionately harmed, as the Office of Environmental Justice faces a 10% cut. And like the House bill, the Senate version is also rife with harmful anti-science policy riders.
Here is where you come in. Call your senators today and ask them to protect funding for the EPA!
You can reach your senators by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
A call script is below to help guide you, as is background on the key EPA program areas we need to protect.
Call 202-224-3121 today!
The Capitol Switchboard will connect you to your senators' offices.
Hi, my name is ______, and I’m calling from [town/city].
I’m calling to express my strong opposition any cuts to the EPA budget and any harmful policy riders that would make it harder for science to be used when the agency is doing its critical work.
Among the areas that I’m most concerned about are: the EPA's Science and Technology Account, the compliance and enforcement budget within the Environmental Programs and Management Account, and the funding for the Office of Environmental Justice, all of which was cut by 10% or more in the Senate bill.
I want to ask [Senator X] to oppose any cuts to these critical programs and areas of the EPA.
Thank you for your time.
[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied]
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More on the critical programs at risk and the harmful riders that must be opposed
The EPA’s Science & Technology Account funds EPA research that addresses a wide range of environmental and health concerns. It encompasses both long-term basic and near-term applied research to provide the scientific knowledge and technologies necessary for preventing, regulating, and abating pollution, and to anticipate emerging environmental issues. The House bill cut this account by 14.75 percent and the Senate cut it by more than 10 percent.
One critical program that would be at risk because of this proposed cut is the EPA’s National Vehicle and Fuels Emission Laboratory, which plays a critical role in undertaking transparent analysis for the development of fuel economy and emissions standards and watchdogging the automotive industry. (For example, the Vehicle Lab verified and provided the data needed to prosecute Volkswagen for Dieselgate).
Funding is also critical for compliance and enforcement throughout the EPA budget, especially the Superfund Program and the Environmental Programs and Management Account, including full funding for the Office of Environmental Justice. Enforcement and compliance are critical, for example, to deterring polluters from allowing toxins to enter our air and water, and ensuring polluters pay a price when they do. Yet the House cut enforcement by 15 percent and compliance by five percent in the Environmental Programs and Management Account; it also cut enforcement seven percent in the Superfund Account. The Senate bill cut enforcement and compliance in the Environmental Programs and Management Account by 10% each. The Senate did give a 1.8% increase to the Superfund Program, which we must fight to protect.
Moreover, the Office of Environmental Justice, which works to makes sure that certain communities don’t bear a disproportionate share of environmental risk, was cut 15 percent in the House budget. The Senate bill would slash funding for the office by 10%.
The Senate bill also includes a provision that would eliminate the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), which helps provide key scientific data on human health risks resulting from exposure to harmful chemicals in the environment. The assessments of hazardous chemicals conducted by the IRIS program are relied upon by scientists at EPA and public health officials across the country and around the world.
Finally, the House and Senate bills also includes manyharmful anti-science riders - extra policies tacked onto spending bills that can do even more damage. Many of these poison pill riders aim to roll back public health, safety, and environmental protections, as well as sideline science. These poison pill anti-science riders would, for example:
- “Legislate” that the burning of trees for energy is positive for climate change, which flies in the face of scientific evidence;
- Permit the administration to ignore scientific and public input as Scott Pruitt’s EPA attempts to withdraw the Clean Water Rule;
- Allow policymakers to overrule biologists and wildlife managers when it comes to protecting our nation’s threatened and endangered wildlife, such as the sage grouse, gray wolf, and lesser prairie chicken; and
- Prevent the Fish and Wildlife Service from using the best available scientific information when making listing and delisting decisions by asking the agency to add bureaucratic hurdles cloaked in the name of transparency.