Monday, February 12, 2018

Trump Proposes 56% Cut In State Grants To Administer Federal EPA Programs, Eliminates NRCS Farm Conservation Programs, No Money For RECLAIM

President Trump Monday released his FY 2019 federal budget proposal which includes a 34 percent cut in appropriations for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from the 2017 enacted budget levels.
The proposal also eliminates two of the basic programs through which farmers get financial support for on-farm conservation practices-- Conservation Stewardship and Regional Conservation Partnership Programs.
No money was requested for the federal Abandoned Mine Land Economic Development Grants Program (RECLAIM) which had previously given Pennsylvania $30 million for mine reclamation projects.
The proposed changes include--
-- 56% Cut In Categorical Grants To States: The proposed $597 million appropriation for state categorical grants (page 104) to administer state programs would be a reduction from the FY 2017 appropriation of $1.066 billion-- a 56 percent cut;
-- Eliminates Conservation Stewardship and Regional Conservation Partnership Programs in USDA that funds on-farm conservation programs and proposes to privatize conservation planning done by the NRCS Click Here for more;
-- 90% Cut In Chesapeake Bay Program Click Here for more;
-- 90% Cut In Great Lakes Program Click Here for more;
-- No Funding Requested For RECLAIM Mine Reclamation Pilot Program Click Here for more;
-- EPA Programs Eliminated: Underground Storage Tanks Grants to states and Leaking Underground Storage Tanks Prevention Program, Indoor Air and Radon Programs, Marine Pollution, National Estuary Programs, Waste Minimization and Recycling, Pollution Prevention Programs, Lead Risk Reduction Program, Environmental Education program, Beaches Program, Climate Change Research and Partnership Programs, STAR Research Grants, WaterSense Surface Water Protection Program.
-- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program to be eliminated;
-- Fee-Funds Energy Star Program: The Energy Star Program would be funded with fees on product labels.
Click Here for a copy of the budget proposal (EPA starts on page 103). Click Here for EPA release on budget. Click Here for EPA’s detailed budget in brief with numbers. Click Here for U.S. Department of the Interior release on budget. Click Here for Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement budget summary.  Click Here for DOE release on budget.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker Monday issued this statement following the release of the Fiscal Year 2019 Trump Administration budget, which reduced funding for EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program by 90 percent.
It also reduced the Great Lakes program by 90 percent and zeroed out other significant water quality programs around the country.
Since the first Bay Agreement in 1983, EPA has been the lead federal partner with the states in the work to reduce pollution to the Chesapeake Bay.
In the last eight years, the states and EPA accelerated their efforts to implement the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint and have all practices in place by 2025 to achieve science-based pollution reduction targets.
“This is yet another assault on clean water, from a President who campaigned saying he valued it. This Budget does not add up.  This administration says they want to partner with states, but a 90 percent budget reduction says the opposite.
“The Chesapeake Bay Program is the glue that holds the state/federal partnership together. A cut of this magnitude would severely damage Bay restoration efforts, just at a time when we are seeing significant progress.
“Today, pollution is down. Jobs have been created, human health protected, and local economies improved. The dead zone is getting smaller; crabs, oysters and underwater grasses are rebounding.
“But the Bay is far from saved. A budget cut of this magnitude would kill that progress.
“Bay restoration efforts have a long history of bipartisan support. CBF will work with the region’s Congressional delegation to push for full funding for the Bay Program.”
For more on Chesapeake Bay-related issues in Pennsylvania, visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA webpage.  Click Here to sign up for Pennsylvania updates (bottom of left column).  Click Here to support their work.
For more information on actions in Pennsylvania to meet Bay pollution reduction obligations, visit DEP’s PA’s Chesapeake Bay Plan webpage.
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Monday said President Trump's FY 2019 budget request, released earlier today, is the most anti-rural, anti-farmer proposal the agriculture community has seen in years.
“The proposals included in this budget request would undermine decades of investments in American agriculture,” said Greg Fogel, Policy Director at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. “Farmers already facing major economic struggles will be further squeezed, rural communities will be at risk of losing desperately-needed tools and resources for job creation and enterprise development, low-income families will be denied critical nutrition support, and we will all feel the impact of a less sustainable food and agricultural system.”
Farmers know that conservation is not just good for the environment; it’s also good for their bottom line.
Interest in voluntary conservation programs has never been higher, and yet the President’s budget request seeks to undermine the very resources farmers rely on by privatizing conservation planning (currently administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service) and eradicating the nation’s largest and most comprehensive conservation program, the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
Over 72 million acres of farm, ranch, and forestland is currently enrolled in CSP – roughly eight percent of all agricultural land. This program, which helps producers improve soil health, water quality, and related natural resources, is so popular that thousands of qualified applicants routinely have to be turned away for lack of funds.
In addition to CSP, the budget proposes to to eliminate the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which supports targeted conservation projects, administered in partnership with non-federal entities.
The proposal to eliminate CSP and RCPP proves that the White House is drastically out of touch with the needs of farmers and rural communities.
USDA’s conservation programs are farmers’ first line of defense against drought, flooding, and other natural disasters-- events that are increasingly more frequent. By undercutting one of farmers’ key risk management tools, the President’s budget put American family farmers-- and tax payers – at serious risk.
The long-term costs to farmers, communities, taxpayers, and our shared natural resources of eliminating conservation support would be enormous, and Congress must therefore reject the Administration’s proposal.
The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy issued the following statement from Co-Chief External Affairs Officer Lynn Scarlett regarding President Trump’s FY 2019 budget proposal released Monday:
“The president’s FY 2019 budget proposes steep cuts to conservation and science programs. As in last year's budget, the Administration continues to recommend dramatic cuts to these programs, even as Congress has already approved an overall higher level of spending.
“The urgent need for strong investments in nature has also become increasingly clear as they sustain clean water, protect communities from extreme storms, provide health benefits through outdoor recreation, and more.
“Conserving natural resources, addressing climate change, investing in science and helping the international community address environmental challenges support community resilience and basic needs such as clean water supplies.
“Last year—America’s costliest year ever for damages from natural disasters—should have been a clear-as-day reminder that our communities need healthy natural systems to help protect them.
“Recovering from the damage cuts like this would cause will mean even bigger investments from future generations to clean our water and air, repair damaged communities after floods and fire disasters, and more.
“The proposal includes a dramatic reduction by 92 percent to the Land and Water Conservation Fund-- a cut that will reduce opportunities for all communities to access public lands.
“The Department of the Interior is facing a 17 percent cut overall, and Department of Agriculture faces a similar cut of 16 percent, including drastic cuts to conservation programs and a complete elimination of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
“It would also cut EPA’s budget by 34 percent, and would shrink spending at the National Science Foundation by 30 percent—both even steeper cuts than what the administration proposed last year and the biggest cuts proposed among all federal agencies.
“For the sake of the security and well-being of all Americans, we’re hopeful Congress will take a smarter approach to spending decisions, as they have the authority over where federal dollars go.
“We’re grateful for the long-standing, bipartisan congressional support for conservation and science funding, and hope that tradition will continue.”
For more information on programs, initiatives and other special events in Pennsylvania, visit the PA Chapter of The Nature Conservancy website.  Click Here to sign up for updates from TNC, Like them on Facebook, Follow them on Twitter and Join them on Instagram.  Click Here to become a member.
(Note: This post will be updated as more information becomes available.)
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