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Aiming to stop the Administration from passing a budget that will decimate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and AFGE National Council of EPA Locals #238 declared September 13 “National Save the U.S. EPA Day”.

John J. O’Grady, president of AFGE National Council 238, and national spokesperson for Save the U.S. EPA and AFGE Chief of Staff, Brian DeWyngaert were joined by Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign; and Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation at a news conference in Washington, D.C.


“The EPA is slated for a minimum three percent (3%) funding reduction which, when adjusted for inflation, would be the lowest funding level since 2001,” O’Grady explained. “The proposed 2018 budget for the EPA also will result in the elimination of the Office of Environmental Justice, the Office of Public Engagement, and all 14 climate voluntary partnership programs. In addition, the proposed budget will slash state grants, and eliminate funding for science and technology programs.”


“The Administration’s proposed cuts to the EPA, which would create uncertainty, cost jobs and roll back critical gains we’ve made in protecting public health and the environment, are ill-conceived and irresponsible,” said Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12). “In Michigan, EPA employees do critical work every day to reduce vehicle emissions, respond to environmental hazards, and keep the U.S. at the forefront of innovation.
Congresswoman Dingell added that “the Great Lakes represent more than 20 percent of the freshwater in the world and must be protected. We simply cannot afford to halt the critical work taking place or cut jobs that are critical to human health, clean water, clean air and other vital areas.”

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, the proposed budget also will cause every state to suffer as funding is cut for the recovery and relief from hurricanes and other natural disasters, the cleanup of Superfund sites, geographical programs in Lake Champlain, Long Island Sound, San Francisco Bay and South Florida, and for the implementation of the Clean Power Plan, Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, Energy Star Program and Global Change Research.

“Now more than ever before, as our country deals with the direct negative effects of climate change through Harvey and Irma, we cannot afford to cut back on a vital agency that has the power to speak for, and keep some of our most vulnerable communities safe,” said the Sierra Club’s Mary Anne Hitt.

“We cannot turn our backs to those whose lives, jobs and communities depend on the clean air, clean water and public lands to which we all have a right,” Hitt said. “Americans count on the EPA for the health and safety of our families, and Sierra Club will do everything in its power to ensure the agency can do its job without political interference.”


O’Grady explained that much of the one million miles of water mains nationwide were laid in the early 20th century and are at, or past lifespan, and there are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the U.S., wasting more than two trillion gallons of treated drinking water.


“According to the Drinking Water Report issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), it will take $1 trillion to maintain and expand service to meet demands over the next 25 years,” O’Grady said. “Anything short of an increase in budget and staffing for the EPA will endanger the agency’s ability to protect human health and the environment. “The ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card gave the U.S. troubling grades, including a D in drinking water, a D+ in hazardous waste and a D+ in wastewater, we simply cannot afford another cut to the budget or staffing levels of the EPA.”

The ASCE also estimates that at least $271 billion is necessary to meet America’s needs for its 14,748 wastewater treatment plants over the next two decades. These facilities are essential infrastructure systems for protecting public health and the environment. The U.S. also has more than 18,000 hazardous waste sites involving 22 million acres, with more than one-half of the population living within three miles of a site.

“We need the EPA now more than ever, as hurricanes slam the Gulf and wildfires ravage the northwest, leaving toxic pollution and soot in their wake,” said National Wildlife Federation President and CEO, Collin O’Mara.

“Unfortunately, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is continuing his ideological war on the EPA, rather than fulfilling the agency’s statutory and court-mandated responsibilities. When the executive branch is derelict in its duty, Congress has the responsibility to keep key EPA programs funded and the courts must hold the agency accountable to follow the law. We must save the EPA so it can fulfill its mission to protect public health, wildlife, and our environment.”

“We must take to the streets, contact our members of Congress, and do all we can to make our voices heard in every community across the country,” O’Grady concluded. “Only by rising up together will we be able to ensure that our children’s air, water and land are protected and save the U.S. EPA.”


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