By almost every measure, the air, water and land in the
Trump would lay off 1 of every 5 EPA employees and reduce the agency's spending by 31 percent to
Dramatically reducing EPA spending would enable the agency "to focus on its highest national priorities," according a document posted online by the
Some programs would be eliminated entirely, including a
"This is a total abandonment of responsibility to protect what we all hold dear, including the
Spending isn't the only way Trump is planning to radically transform the EPA.
The agency's new administrator,
Pruitt also has said he plans to cede more authority to the states to decide which environment and public health initiatives should be a priority. At the same time, the
One of the reasons Nixon created the EPA was that many federal officials had concluded states were incapable of holding polluters accountable or were unwilling to do so.
Much of the agency's early work was focused on the
It took the EPA until 1977, five years after the Clean Water Act took effect, to secure a court decision forcing the
Federal money and legal pressure also are largely responsible for reducing the amount of sewage that cities once routinely pumped into the
The EPA also has forced polluters to clean up toxic waste through the Superfund law, which gave the agency authority to seek restitution from corporations. Local sites targeted through the program include Kerr-McGee in
"If anything good can come out of the Trump budget, it is reminding people about the reasons why the EPA was created in the first place," said
There still are 26 other sites on the
Funding for the Superfund program and EPA enforcement division would be cut by roughly a third in the Trump budget, which among other things could stall the cleanup of lead-contaminated yards in
William Ruckleshaus, the
"The public will tolerate changes that allow the agency to meet its mandated goals more efficiently and effectively," Ruckleshaus wrote. "They will not tolerate changes that threaten their health or the precious environment. These are lessons
(c)2017 the Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.