Donald J. Trump has certainly been rocking the boat ever since he’s moved into the Oval Office, and whether you love or hate him, one thing is for sure- Washington D.C. was sorely in need of an overhaul, and he’s certainly giving it one.
There are few areas where this overhaul is more apparent than his proposed changes to the Environmental Protection Agency. First, Trump nominated Edward Scott Pruitt an American lawyer and Republican politician from the state of Oklahoma, to become the new agency head. Pruitt, who was confirmed to his position by the U.S. Senate on February 17, 2017, has long been at odds with the EPA and environmentalists in general, leading many to question why the President would appoint him at all.
Next, Trump has, in preliminary budget drafts, proposed numerous cuts to government agencies; but nowhere have those cuts been steeper than for the EPA. Trump has proposed a 31 percent cut to the agency’s budget, which would essentially lay off 25 per cent of its employees and do away with over 50 programs that cover environmental safety and conservation on a federal level. Environmentalists are up in arms over what that could mean for the fragile ecosystems of the country, and while on paper such cuts can appear to be catastrophic, there’s one other way to look at things- the Republican way.
That is, the Republican mantra has always been “less government.” By slashing funding the overall reach of the EPA, the federal government is giving individual states the chance to have a more active hand in shaping their own environmental agendas. Some states, such as California and New York, have vowed to beef up their own environmental programs in response to Trump’s EPA cuts, and in a more liberal, progressive states such as these, such staunch adherence to “green” programs makes sense; more than it would in a state like Kentucky where coal mining is prevalent, for example.
There are several ways that one can argue that Trump is seemingly is allowing states more leeway in how they interpret and enforce their on legislative views on environmental conservation; for example, EPA funding to state-based programs has seen far less brutal cuts; the budget maintains funding to states to programs that handle waste treatment and drinking water. Likewise, scientific research, climate change, and education programs, are being re-focused on state and local governments. Of course, while this does indeed give states and municipalities more flexibility in handling environmental concerns in a manner that bests fits their own circumstances, one could argue that going green is something that the country as a whole should be doing; there are strength in numbers, after all.
But there’s no denying that federal spending is out of control, and that government agencies should have to learn how to do more with less. Trump recently made an interesting, and environmental-friendly announcement this week- he will be donating his salary since taking office on January 20 – $78,333.32, to be exact –to the National Park Service, a green cause if there ever was one. This is especially surprising, since members of the Park Service in particular have been very vocal critics of Trumps environmental views.
However, while giving more control over environmental issues to the states is all well and good, it doesn’t mean much if the states don’t have the financial backing to do anything on their own. Virginia’s polluted Chesapeake Bay, for example, is facing hardship due to the fact that proposed cut to federal aid for clean-up efforts in Trump’s proposed budget have been slashed from $73 million to absolutely nothing at all. Overall, there have also been nationwide outcries against the plan to scrap the 2014 Clean Power Plan, which called for major reductions in carbon emissions from power plants in order to help combat Climate Change. Trump has called such measures “job-killing,” by imposing undue regulations upon companies that, in turn, are forced to cut employees as a result of the financial issues associated with conforming with the guidelines set forth by the Clean Power Plan. Environmental blogs such as YelowPagesGoesGreen have questioned if undoing such regulations are the right way to go when it comes to doing right by the planet and its many fragile eco-systems.
There are reasons that one could cite to argue both for and against Donald Trump’s views on the environment and the government’s role in protecting it. While giving the states a more active role and more authority in determining and enforcing the will of the people in regards to their green agenda, a subsequent raise in federal funding to help facilitate state and local programs would not be a bad idea. It’s something the President of the United States should consider, as such a course of action would not only support his contention that more power should given to states in this regards, but he would also be giving them the money to make the best of this new-found power as well.