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Proposed EPA program cuts become clearer

April 19th, 2017 by Dakota Software Staff Industry News

Proposed EPA program cuts become clearer

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to change significantly under the administration of President Donald Trump. Holding many views that clash with those of the Obama administration, it's no surprise that Trump wants to change a number of variables related to the EPA, its staff, workflows and processes. Part of that change involves budget cuts for a variety of EPA programs, a number of which have significant impacts on a variety of businesses. Here's a look at recent information related to those financial changes:

Cutting back on major EPA projects

Regional programs

The New York Times said water testing, largely conducted by states through financing provided by the federal Public Water System Supervision Grant Program, would take a substantial hit in the new budget. That's significant in the context of Flint, Michigan, where a municipal change in water sourcing combined with the use of lead pipes has made drinking water unsafe for residents.

It also means future issues, from bacterial contamination to the presence of harmful substances, might be overlooked due to a lack of staffing or testing facilities. The Times said the overall budget reduction is about $31 million from the 2016 financial year, bringing the program's budget to $71 million. That's in line with what The Washington Post reported was an overall 31-percent budget cut for the environmental regulator.

The Post said programs slated for total dismantling are mostly locally focused, like the cooperative international administrative programs the EPA coordinates for the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain. A number of other large, regional programs, like those focused on the Gulf of Mexico and Puget Sound, are also slated to be shuttered. For businesses that use water from these areas in the course of business, a number of significant changes could arise.

Vehicle standards

The same programs that created massive penalties for Volkswagen and could have a similar impact on Fiat Chrysler, if that automaker is ultimately found liable for issues with its emissions testing, could soon disappear. The Times said funding would be reduced significantly, with an alternative plan to pay for testing through fees placed on the manufacturers instead.

Climate protection efforts

One national-level program that could be ended is the Energy Star program, which offers manufacturers a set of standards to follow related to the energy efficiency of appliances. That initiative is part of the umbrella of the EPA's Climate Protection Program. The Energy Star concept encourages less energy use in household equipment and also serves as a purchasing guide for some consumers.

Businesses that produce Energy Star-eligible appliances have significant decisions to make related to continuing to produce those items, should the new budget pass. The Times said many businesses have positive attitudes toward Energy Star, as it encourages competition. It can also help organizations tap into certain customer demographics, specifically those that prioritize environmentally friendly purchases. Energy Star's international adoption by countries ranging from Canada to Japan and the European Union was also noted, as it allows for easy expansion into those markets.

More emphasis on basic statutory concerns

The Post said the proposed ending of 14 Climate Protection Program initiatives is seen as a path toward refocusing on the basic statutory requirements that are at the heart of the EPA's mission. This means less of a focus on environmental regulations and other programs developed in the past few decades, especially those created under Obama's tenure as president. Overall, the budget reduction would impact nearly every operational aspect of the federal agency and filter down into further influence on state- and local-level programs due to cuts in funding.

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