From 2008 to 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency saw a dramatic decline in both funding and staffing — both have fallen by 16 percent. Now, as cuts continue, the Trump administration is shifting environmental protection responsibility into states’ hands, despite widespread reductions to states’ environmental agency staffing and funding.
A recent report from the Environmental Integrity Project, a D.C.-based environmental advocacy nonprofit, evaluates states’ capacities to effectively regulate environmental permitting and enforcement. Despite states increasing their budgets and U.S. oil and gas industries experiencing an “unprecedented boom,” the organization found that between 2008 and 2018, 30 states reduced funding for environmental agencies. Of these, 16 states made cuts greater than 20 percent, and 40 states reduced their environmental agency workforce.
Proponents for the cuts have argued that streamlining state agencies amidst cutbacks will encourage efficiency and cooperation with the EPA. However, the large influx of incoming permits alone cannot be adequately considered by state agencies, according to the report authors, suggesting these trends will threaten public health and the integrity of natural resources. The authors warn that these agency workers are the “thin green line that protects our families [and environment] from pollution. If we cut that line…we will leave a contaminated landscape that we will not want to pass on to future generations.”
For more information, visit tinyurl.com/EIPThinGreenLine. — By Ahdya Elias Attea