The Impact of Proposed EPA Budget Cuts in New York

To the outrage of groups across the country, the Trump Administration recently released its Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal which slashes funding for important environmental programs and agencies. Among the proposed cuts is a reduction of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s budget by 31%. This jeopardizes programs that enhance water quality, develop energy technologies, conduct climate research, protect public health, and more. So what does this mean for New Yorkers?

Water quality, wetland restoration, and coastal management are all at risk.

Funding for Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) would be cut by 95%. The recently reauthorized LWCF has invested over $320 million in New York State projects alone, which has generated state and local revenue, created jobs, and ensured preservation of forests, parks, wildlife refuges, and outdoor recreational areas. In New York State, the LWCF has provided funding for over 1,200 projects to help protect places including Robert Moses State Park and Jones Beach on Long Island, the Red Hook Pool in Brooklyn, Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx, Sterling Forest in the Hudson Valley; Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks, and the Erie Canal Trail spanning from Albany to Buffalo.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) would also face a major cut under the 2020 budget proposal. The budget seeks to cut $270 million of $300 million, which would directly impair the restoration of wetlands and the improvement of water quality. GLRI funding improves the water quality of Lake Ontario by targeting 12 regions of New York that support waterways that drain into Lake Ontario. With such a major cut in funding, the GLRI will struggle to control agricultural runoff, nutrient management, and wetland restoration.

The proposal would also completely eliminate funding for three of New York’s most important coastal management programs: Long Island Sound program, NOAA’s Sea Grant, and Coastal Zone Management Grant program. The Long Island Sound Program works to restore the health of the Sound by focusing on nitrogen management, habitat restoration, public education, and water quality monitoring. NY Sea Grant promotes the coastal community and vitality of New York’s marine environment and Great Lakes. Just last year, NY Sea Grant educated 8,800 K-12 students and 63,000 workshop and conference participants. Without funding, New York could lose these valuable coastal services.

The proposed budget also includes reactions that would affect transportation, energy development technologies, and climate research.

Funding for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant program would be reduced from $87 million to $10 million. In just 11 years, New York has received 34 grants under this program to upgrade, retrofit, and replace school buses, transit buses, and commuter ferries in order to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases. The tax credit for switching to electric vehicles would also be repealed. NYLCV believes that as the transportation sector is the #1 source of greenhouse gas emissions in New York and nationwide, cutting this important program is backwards and shortsighted. We should be working towards electrification.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) would lose all funding, which impacts the development of energy technologies. This program has funded 36 projects in New York, including projects that address energy efficiency, transportation fuels, battery technology, grid sustainability, and more. New York could also be impacted by the major funding cuts of federal programs including the Atmospheric Protection Program, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Global Change Research Office, and Department of Energy,

New York’s lead exposure research and prevention programs would lose significant funding under Trump’s budget proposal.

The Public Housing Capital Fund would be eliminated entirely and funding for the Public Housing Operating Fund would be cut by 38%. These cuts would greatly impact the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), which is counting on $885 million from the Operating Fund and $523 from the Capital Fund in its 2019 FY budget. These cuts could affect NYCHA’s ability to address lead exposure and other public health risks within its housing services.  

The Community Development Block Grant, which offers grants for lead-reduction projects, would be eliminated entirely. New York has used this fund to implement its childhood lead poisoning prevention program.

If this budget proposal passes, New Yorkers will face a major decline in essential environmental services regarding water quality and preservation, energy technology and climate research, and public health. NYLCV will work with our partners to ensure that this budget proposal is not implemented and continue to advocate for robust federal funding for the environment.

By Talia Sechley and Colleen Burns