March 23, 2017

Trump Administration's Budget Blueprint Calls For Significant Impacts to Environmental Programs

Holland & Knight Alert
Amy L. Edwards | Andy Emerson

"You can't drain the swamp and leave all the people in it." – Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney at the unveiling of the President's Budget Blueprint

The Trump Administration unveiled significant rollbacks in funding for federal agencies when it released its Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again on March 16, 2017. The President's proposed budget priorities would reduce the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) budget by 31 percent to $5.7 billion, trim its workforce by 20 percent and eliminate 50 programs, including its Chesapeake Bay Initiative and Great Lakes Initiative, the Energy Star Program, the Clean Power Plan and the EPA's Office of Environmental Justice. These proposed reductions would also significantly reduce funding for the Superfund program (by 30 percent), research and development (by 50 percent), grants to states and tribes, and enforcement (by 25 percent). This preliminary "skinny" budget is just an outline, not a full budget proposal, but if the full budget retains these spending levels, then there will be a direct impact on state programs.

For instance, the District of Columbia requires private buildings of more than 50,000 gross square feet within the District to disclose their energy consumption on an annual basis. This Energy Benchmarking program relies on the EPA's Energy Star Portfolio Manager tool to input data and produce reports. If the Energy Start Program is eliminated, these tools will likely no longer be available and certainly will not be updated, forcing the District to either curtail its program or develop a separate standalone benchmarking solution.

The Budget Blueprint also proposes significant cuts to EPA's sister agencies, including a 15 percent reduction at the Department of Commerce that would eliminate the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) budget for coastal and marine management, research and education. The Budget Blueprint describes a 12 percent reduction in the Department of Interior's budget, a 16 percent cut in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' budget and a 5.6 percent decrease at the Department of Energy, including elimination of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) and the federal Weatherization Assistance Program. If adopted, the Budget Blueprint would eliminate all support for United Nations climate change programs and Global Climate Change initiatives.

Other Environmental Developments

On a related front, the Trump Administration issued a Notice of Intent to Review and Rescind or Revise the Clean Water Rule, the controversial rule that determines whether an area is a "water of the United States" (82 Fed. Reg. 12532). It also signaled in a court filing its intent to reopen the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) 2015 Final Rule regarding fracking on public and Indian lands as "not being consistent with the policies and priorities" of the new Administration (Wyoming v. Dept. of Interior, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit). It has also announced its plan to revisit the Obama Administration's final determination of mid-term evaluation of greenhouse gas emission standards for light-duty vehicles, model years 2022-2025. Finally, the Trump Administration has delayed the effective date of the EPA's Accidental Release Prevention Requirements by at least 90 days pending an appeal of the final regulations that would have otherwise gone into effect on March 21, 2017 (82 Fed. Reg. 13968).


Information contained in this alert is for the general education and knowledge of our readers. It is not designed to be, and should not be used as, the sole source of information when analyzing and resolving a legal problem. Moreover, the laws of each jurisdiction are different and are constantly changing. If you have specific questions regarding a particular fact situation, we urge you to consult competent legal counsel.

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