By Fredrica Syren:
Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report showing how 1.7 million children under the age of 5 die each year because of environmental pollutants, and that more than 90% of the world’s population is thought to breathe air that violates quality guidelines set by WHO. The week before, our new administration reveled in the way it’s planning deep budget cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which will affect both air and water quality as well as slow climate change.
The proposed plan from the Office of Management and Budget is to reduce the EPA’s budget by 25 percent, which will cause a cut of 3,000 jobs, about 19 percent of the agency’s staff. The programs facing the cuts are those aimed at slowing climate change and improving water safety and air quality. It’s the climate protection budget that faces the most drastic reduction, almost 70 percent of its budget. The reason for budget cuts of EPA and other domestic agencies and departments is that President Trump wants to increase military spending by billions of dollars.
Other areas of the EPA budget being slashed are the agency’s monitoring and enforcement of compliance with environmental laws, initiatives for reducing diesel emissions and beach water quality testing. It also will eliminate funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a wide-ranging cleanup of the world’s largest surface freshwater system that has deep bipartisan support across the eight states adjacent to the lakes, from Minnesota to New York.
Of course the new budget will have to be approved by congress first, which would happen in a few months.
Environmental groups are outraged by the proposed cuts, and say they will threaten thousands of jobs and endanger millions of Americans’ health and safety. Critics accuse President Trump of putting big money special interests over the American people.
I, for one, am outraged as well over how this administration is putting aside the health and well-being of the American people, and how clean air and water will be something of the past. The EPA and its programs play an important role in keeping people in the U.S. safe, especially children. WHO’s report shows how important this issue is. It’s time for everyone to fight these planned budget cuts and to demand a healthy environment for everyone.