Day 42: Learn About EPA’s Budget!

Learn about the federal budget process and Trump’s proposal to slash the EPA.

DAY 42 ACTION: Budget season has begun. Learn about the federal budget process, looking at EPA as an example.


Earth from space, October 17, 2000. Credit: NASA.

The federal budget process has begun.

We know. The word ‘budget’ will send some of you into a panic, and put the rest of you to sleep. But the federal budget is a big deal. It’s a good idea to understand a little bit about the budget process.

The feds operate on a different calendar from the rest of us. New spending years begin October 1 and end September 30 the following year. The next federal budget begins in 7 months.

The President kicks off the budget process by sending a proposal to Congress. The House and Senate pass budget resolutions, to outline their spending priorities. By summer, the appropriations committees hammer out a specific spending plan; then, the President signs it into law. This site offers a great primer on the process.

This week, a draft Trump budget proposed drastic budget cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since 1970, when Nixon created the EPA, this agency has protected public health and the environment. We’ve described how EPA banned lead in gasoline and ended the destruction of the earth’s protective ozone layer. But that’s not all – from 1970 to 2015, air pollution like smog and soot dropped 70%, while our economy grew 246%.

Today, nearly 50% of Americans say the feds do too little to protect the environment. (Only 16% say they do too much.) Whether it’s climate change, new chemicals, or toxic waste, we still have a lot of work to do. Cutting EPA’s budget by one-quarter makes that job harder. 

The proposed budget could mean 3,000 fewer EPA employees. EPA has offices all over the U.S.; these job losses could come in Atlanta; Boston; Kansas City, KS; Cincinnati; and Dallas. Slashing EPA’s budget also harms state, local, and tribal agencies – 40% of EPA’s dollars are awarded as grants in communities like yours. Finally, the proposed budget eliminates or shrinks climate, research, and clean water programs.

The federal budget process affects issues you care about and may affect your own community!

Today’s Action: Learn about the federal budget process. Talk about Trump’s proposal to cut EPA by 1/4. What does this mean for environmental protection?

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