President Trump hasn’t exactly been closed-mouthed about his disdain for the Environmental Protection Agency. He’s sharpening his ax, so Surfrider Foundation fired up a campaign for surfers to voice concern over changes to water quality protection.
Trump’s scorn for the EPA was almost immediately evident. Scott Pruitt, the man he hired to lead the EPA, sued it more than a dozen times over the last decade. In the weeks leading up to Pruitt, Trump famously put a gag order on the EPA, shutting down their Twitter account in the process. Then, of course, he signed another executive order that requires the Environmental Protection Agency to review water regulations put in place by Barack Obama–regulations that effectively keep our waterways free of most of the toxic shit we produce on a daily basis.
From a certain point of view, one can understand where Trump is coming from–he wants to build the economy, and strict environmental regulations can make that harder. That’s why places like China are doing so well economically and so poorly environmentally (although even China is lightyears ahead of the current US mentality when it comes to fossil fuels). The regulations are a huge pain in the ass for farmers, ranchers, and oil companies, the latter of which has a lot of pull on the Presidential marionette strings. Now, with the administration’s plan to dramatically slash funding, shit is about to get real.
An outline of the Trump budget was released last week, and it’s scary for anyone who likes to be outside. It’s scary for anyone who likes clean water, fresh air, and smart kids. Here are a few highlights from Oregon Live.
-Puget Sound. Funding for restoration work in the country’s second-largest estuary would be cut from $28 million to $2 million.
-The Great Lakes. Funding to combat algae blooms, invasive species and other water pollution problems in the world’s largest group of freshwater lakes would be cut from $300 million to $10 million.
-The Chesapeake Bay. Funding for restoration in the country’s largest estuary would be cut from $73 million to $5 million.
-Research on endocrine disruptors. The EPA’s work studying chemicals that can interfere with the body’s reproductive and developmental systems would nearly be eliminated, dropping from $7.5 million to $445,000.
-Diesel emissions. Since 2008, the EPA has issued grants to accelerate the country’s transition from old, dirty diesel engines to cleaner burning trucks and equipment. They’ve been responsible for most of Oregon’s progress in addressing cancer-causing diesel soot, a major air pollution source.
-Beach water quality testing. The EPA spends about $9.5 million to fund state testing of bacteria levels at beaches around the country. In Oregon, it funds state testing during the summer. That would be eliminated.
-The U.S.-Mexico border. Sewage and garbage from Mexico frequently sweeps into San Diego during winter rainstorms. The EPA has funded work there to slow the flood of garbage into the Pacific Ocean. Its program to address problems like that would be cut from $3 million to $275,000.
-Environmental education. The EPA spends $8.7 million annually on programs to educate children. Spending on them would be cut to $555,000
Holy shit, right? Those are drastic changes, and they’ll have a direct effect on surfers. “The President’s budget outline proposes a drastic 24% reduction in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, including the total elimination of some programs such as EPA-led climate initiatives,” Surfrider said in a statement. “Funding for water quality testing through the BEACH Act grants will also likely face complete elimination. That puts your health, and the health of over 100 million people who visit U.S. beaches annually, at risk.”
Surfrider is calling on surfers (and anyone who likes the ocean) to ask Congress “to reject these drastic budget cuts and reckless attempts to prevent the EPA from meeting its mission of protecting the environment and your health.”