The first federal budget proposal under President Trump's Administration has been posted on the White House website, and the news for environmental programs that protect clean water and healthy beaches is even worse than we anticipated.
While the President's Budget vows that it puts 'America First' and is aimed at 'Making Government Work Again,' nothing could be further from the truth as it proposes steep cuts to programs and agencies tasked with protecting what is so vital to the lives of everyday Americans - their health and clean air and water. The President's Budget Proposal for Federal Year 2018 includes a 31%, reduction in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and the elimination of 3,200 staff positions. Little details are provided in this 53 page document, but starting on page 41 you can read about the proposal to eliminate all EPA-led climate change programs and research and regional restoration programs in areas such as the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound.
The budget outline actually brags about eliminating over 50 EPA programs, including the BEACH Act Grants Program that helps pay for water testing programs that protect public health at the beach. Basically, the Administration justifies these cuts by passing over responsibility to states to enforce environmental and public health protections, all the while cutting way back on the amount of support they give the states to do just that. This is not a good plan. The states do not have the resources to shoulder this massive new responsibility, nor should they. Read more about why the states need continued support from the EPA here.
Page 14 of the proposed budget describes the 16% reduction in funding for the Department of Commerce which houses the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Over $250 million in NOAA grants and programs supporting coastal and marine management, research, and education, including Sea Grant, have been targeted for elimination. Read more about Surfrider's concerns with the budget cuts that have been proposed for NOAA here and a Huffington Post article that explains further how these cuts will affect environmental programs at both agencies.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Fortunately, the President doesn't set the budget on his own. This budget outline is really just an opening bid to Congress for them to consider as they go through their formal appropriation process over the course of the year to determine spending levels for each agency. The Surfrider Foundation intends to take every opportunity to make sure that our representatives in Congress understand well what is important to our members and the everyday lives of people across this country - clean water and safe and healthy beaches and coasts.
What Can You Do Right Now?
- Make Your Voice Heard. Pick up the phone and call your Congressional Representatives in DC. Let them know that clean water, public health, healthy coasts and action on climate change are important to you. Remind them that its their responsibility to ensure that the EPA and NOAA are empowered, through adequate funding, staffing and authority, to continue to meet each mission. Find your member's phone numbers here: Senate and House. Or send an email direct to their inbox to make a specific request to protect EPA's budget.
- Get Involved. Attend a Surfrider chapter meeting. You’ll learn how you can work side by side our Surfrider network of volunteers to ensure clean water and safe, accessible beaches in coastal communities across the country. We are fighting campaigns at the local, state & federal level to protect our coasts and to ensure safe and healthy beaches for everyone. Find the closest chapter to you here.
- Donate. The urgency of the work on the ground has never been more important. Opening up your wallet and becoming a member, renew or give an additional donation will help fuel our network of volunteer coastal defenders with the resources we need to win at this most critical time. Please join us at: Surfrider.org/support-surfrider.