U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt yesterday appeared before the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, facing questions on the proposed EPA budget, which will cut the agency’s spending by roughly 30 percent.
According to national and local organizations working on Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River Delta restoration – Environmental Defense Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Ocean Conservancy, and The Nature Conservancy – cutting EPA programs that are restoring the Gulf environment is a direct threat to the businesses, communities and families who call the region home.
“Time and again, Congressional leaders have made promises to the people of the Gulf that restoration is a priority. These budget cuts threaten the progress that is being made. We urge Congress to reject these cuts and to continue their support for Gulf restoration,” the statement said.
The proposed budget would cut funding to regionally-based programs such as the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program, the EPA National Estuary Program and the EPA Lake Pontchartrain Restoration Program.
The EPA Gulf of Mexico program encompasses nearly 5 million acres, and has helped shape the natural heritage, culture and economy of the five Gulf states.
The National Estuary Program (NEP), created by Congress with bipartisan support in 1987, has a long record of success through collaboration among federal, state and local agencies. There are seven National Estuary Program sites in the Gulf of Mexico. Loss of the NEP program would be a setback to Gulf of Mexico restoration. Funding for the National Estuary Program should not be cut from the EPA budget.