President Trump has launched the opening salvo in his assault on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Trump is tearing into the EPA’s budget by a reported 24 percent, which if approved by Congress would slash the agency’s $8.1 billion budget to George H.W. Bush-era levels and reduce the EPA’s workforce by one-fifth.
Trump and his newly installed EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, are also beginning an aggressive regulatory rollback at the agency, taking aim at climate change programs instituted or expanded under President Obama.
The president on Tuesday signed an executive order asking the EPA to rewrite a controversial water jurisdiction rule that was central to the agency’s regulatory efforts under the Obama administration.
The moves are in line with Trump’s rhetoric during the presidential campaign, when he promised to hobble an agency he considered bloated, overreaching and a threat to jobs in the United States.
Between the EPA actions and other executive orders fast-tracking two contentious pipeline projects, Democrats and environmentalists are bracing for bigger attacks on Obama’s climate legacy.
“I always took him very seriously when it came to his desire to dismantle the Clean Air and the Clean Water Act, and he’s going to try to go through with it,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said.
Trump’s budget proposal, Schatz said, is “radical, it’s extreme and we will fight it. And of course a budget is a declaration of political objectives and not a binding document, so the committees will have their way with it, and I know we’ll have a fight.”
During the campaign, Trump promised to take a much more conservative approach to environmental issues as president.
He pledged to end the water rule and the Clean Power Plan, allow the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipeline projects to move forward, reform the EPA’s regulatory power and expand fossil fuel development in the United States. So far, he’s made progress on many of those goals, ratcheting up the stakes for environmentalists.