Last month, a draft of President Trump’s budget proposal for 2018 was leaked, revealing that large budget cuts have been planned for most government programs, except for the military. The EPA was quickly identified as Trump’s biggest target for budget cuts.
Three programs within the EPA — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and The Renovation, Repair and Painting Program (RRPP) — are going to be hit the hardest, with the latter to be removed altogether.
This action is detrimental to America, as it will lead to a decrease in natural disaster response time and an increase in both lead poisoning and air pollution.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency
FEMA is a first responder agency for natural disasters. Whenever a hurricane makes landfall or a tornado destroys a city, FEMA is there to clean up the mess and help put the victims’ lives back together. The president’s budget aims to slash their funding in half.
Let us put this in terms that President Trump would understand. Let us say that the Trump Hotel in Las Vegas was destroyed by a tornado. Under the 2017 guidelines, FEMA would cover all of the costs and rebuild the tower just as it was.
Under the proposed budget, the agency would be more concerned with disasters that impact larger populations and would not bother to cover the damages to the building – meaning that the Trump Hotel would have to cover the costs out of pocket. Now imagine someone who is not "very rich" like the president claims to be. Without help from FEMA, these people will struggle to put their lives back together.
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Although it makes sense that Trump wants to cut the EERE’s budget, as he jokingly said that climate change is a conspiracy developed by China, it has hazardous implications for the future of renewable energy.
Cutting the program that provides alternatives to fossil fuels will make people less likely to look toward renewable energy as an option. It does not help that the budget in question is also planning on financing the coal industry.
As I have stated multiple times before in Ka Leo O Hawai‘i, climate change is not a myth. Temperatures are rising, storms — like hurricanes — are becoming more severe and the polar ice caps are melting.
Not allowing these energy alternatives to develop, to a point where the installation costs are affordable, will encourage the continued production of greenhouse gasses and worsen the situation that we are in.
The Renovation, Repair and Painting Program
It is very difficult to forget the water crisis that Flint, Michigan went through last year. Unfortunately, the this crisis goes further than lead piping.
For a long time, the lead industry used lead in paint as a method of increasing durability and maintaining a fresh appearance. This changed in 1978 when the U.S. government banned the use of lead in paint, as studies were showing that children under the age of 6 who lived in homes with lead paint had lower IQs and other bodily damage.
The Renovation, Repair and Painting Program (RRPP) is designed to clean out the millions of homes across the country that still have lead paint.
The unfortunate decision to completely defund this program will leave the lead paint in those houses, increasing the chance that children in such homes will grow up with nervous system damage.
The defunding of this program, along with the budget cuts to FEMA and the EERE will cause a public health crisis as the methods needed to combat lead poisoning, natural disaster damage and climate change will be null and void.
It would make sense to our former-businessman president to cut several EPA programs — as he believes that EPA regulations "destroy businesses" — but please, leave people’s health and well-being out of those cuts.