While Americans are preoccupied with the battle over the GOP’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, many of us are overlooking the fact that the Trump administration’s budget outline presages an even greater threat to the public’s health and safety.
The outline – a preliminary plan listing the administration’s spending priorities — would eliminate or cut the following essential programs:
- It makes deep cuts in the EPA’s local air monitoring program, which warns local communities when pollution levels are dangerously high.
- It makes similar cuts in funding for testing drinking water to ensure its safety.
- It slashes funding for wastewater treatment facilities.
- It eliminates cleanup funding for tens of thousands of sites polluted by chemical and radioactive waste.
- It slashes grants to states for addressing poisonous lead contamination.
- It deeply cuts grants to states for implementing the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.
- It eliminates the Environmental Justice program that helps poor communities grapple with severe pollution problems.
- It strips the fossil fuel industry of its obligation to collect data on emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from its wells.
- It cuts grants to eliminate indoor radon poisoning.
- It eliminates the diesel emissions reduction grants program, which seeks to reduce emissions from old diesel engines—a cause of asthma and other lung diseases.
- It eliminates the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy, which focuses on developing technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
- It eliminates funding for the successful programs that have been reducing water pollution in The Great Lakes, Lake Champlain, Long Island Sound, Puget Sound, South Florida, and San Francisco Bay
- It eliminates support for Alaska villages sinking because of climate change.
- It wipes out the EPA’s environmental education programs.
- It cuts 40 percent of the funding for the EPA’s Office of Research and Development, which works on air and water quality, chemical safety, and climate change.
- It cuts $513 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellite division, which provides 90 percent of the data used for weather forecasting, that helps find and rescue lost ships and aircraft, and that monitors the rise of ocean levels and other evidence of climate change.
- In addition, the Affordable Care Act replacement bill moving through the House calls for cutting $1 billion from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, hitting hardest on the Prevention and Public Health Fund which helps states combat preventable diseases and childhood lead poisoning.
- And the President’s federal hiring freeze is already forcing the military to curtail or close down its child health care services.
Taken together, these proposals amount to a huge sellout to the fossil fuel industry, the chemical industry, and other polluters. And they represent an unprecedented threat to the public health and safety.
And this only what I’ve been able to glean so far from news reports in the media, including scientific journals.
Call your congressmen. Make your voices heard.