David Lewis / Save the Bay & The San Francisco Chronicle – 2017-03-20 00:25:34
Trump Budget Would Make America Dirty and Sick Again
David Lewis / The San Francisco Chronicle
(March 18, 2017) — President Trump’s budget proposal is a direct assault on our health and safety. The enormous cuts he is proposing to the US Environmental Protection Agency and other departments will hurt people and the planet by gutting enforcement of laws that protect the water we drink, the air we breathe and the environment that sustains us.
How many voters last year asked for more smoggy skies and fouled water, for less enforcement of criminal pollution and faster climate change? It’s doubtful most Trump voters want that, but his budget sides with polluter interests and climate deniers — not with us.
The EPA has a huge responsibility but a tiny budget. Out of every $10 in federal taxes, just two cents goes to the EPA. Cutting the EPA’s budget by 31 percent would not save much money, but it would cost a lot in lives, in lost productivity from illness and in pollution damage to crucial resources such as San Francisco Bay.
The bay is our region’s greatest natural treasure, the heart of our economy and quality of life. It took enormous effort to return the bay to health from near-death 40 years ago, when it was choked with garbage, sewage and industrial waste.
The Clean Water Act and the EPA helped build treatment plants in the 1970s that made the bay’s beaches safe and its waters swimmable again. Harbor porpoises have even returned to the bay.
As the Bay Area keeps growing, we need more federal investment, not less, to combat the impacts of climate change, freshwater diversion and polluted storm water pouring unfiltered off streets into the bay.
Bay Area voters agreed to tax themselves in last year’s Measure AA to accelerate shoreline wetlands restoration that’s mostly within a federal wildlife refuge. The federal government should match our investment, yet Trump’s budget would zero out EPA’s $5 million program that protects marsh habitat and reduces pollution in the bay.
And the cuts go much deeper.
The Bay Area environment is not a bubble. We’re connected to the rest of California and the nation, where the EPA’s programs have made people and wildlife healthier and safer. Agency warnings about threats to fish species and water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta are forcing a rewrite of Gov. Jerry Brown’s California Water Fix.
The EPA’s Clean Air Act enforcement reduced smog from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh and forced safer drinking water in cities nationwide. To avoid more health crises like the tragedy in Flint, Mich., we need a stronger EPA, not budget cuts that slash enforcement.
The EPA identifies and cleans up toxic waste at Superfund sites, including more than 50 in the Bay Area. Its Toxics Release Inventory publishes data online so we know the pollution risks in our backyards. It is on the front lines of addressing the climate change that is already hurting our health, natural resources and economy.
The EPA has helped cut global warming gases from US power plants, factories and cars, and its energy efficiency standards have reduced our consumption of fossil fuels. While Trump and his Cabinet deny facts and ignore science, the EPA is required by law to limit the carbon emissions that are cooking the planet. But that takes resources and staff that Trump would cut.
We must tell Congress to reject reckless budget cuts to environmental protection. Every mayor and city council member must echo that call. Our governor and state Legislature must keep their pledge to enforce laws if the federal government does relax its efforts, and fund enforcement of those laws.
Trump’s budget would make America dirty and sick again, and nobody who breathes or drinks should stand for it.
David Lewis is the executive director of Save the Bay. Learn more at www.savesfbay.org.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.