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Report: Proposed Cuts to EPA Threaten Arizona's Air, Water

EPA grants cover almost 30 percent of state and local air-quality monitoring in Arizona. (Truckerdan/Morguefile)
EPA grants cover almost 30 percent of state and local air-quality monitoring in Arizona. (Truckerdan/Morguefile)
September 5, 2017

PHOENIX - Proposed budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency will jeopardize public health and the cleanliness of Arizona's air, water and land, according to a new report.

Researchers from the Environmental Defense Fund found that the EPA funnels almost $62 million a year into cleanup and monitoring programs in the state. Yet President Trump's budget calls for a 30 percent reduction in EPA funding.

Natacha Chavez, with Arizona Moms Clean Air Force, said she relies on air-quality monitoring programs to protect her little boy and girl.

"Having the testing definitely helps us be aware of what is going on with our environment. Knowing when it's a bad day to go outside or what the air quality is, is very important," she said. "If those get cut, as a parent, I won't have all the tools to make sure they have a good quality of life."

Trump's budget would slash the EPA's cleanup funds for Arizona's nine Superfund and 416 brownfield sites. It also would zero out funding for programs that help kids with lead poisoning and fight polluted runoff water from roads and abandoned mines. EPA chief Scott Pruitt has argued that many environmental regulations are too burdensome on the business community.

Bill Becker, former head of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, said Arizona's tourism-based economy will suffer as the air quality worsens.

"If you take away the regulations to help reduce emissions in these areas," he said, "then viability will be further impaired and the public may not be as excited about going to the Grand Canyon or going to some of our nation's treasures as they previously were."

Congress will take up 12 appropriations bills in the coming weeks to fund the federal government over the next fiscal year.

The EDF study is online here, and an Arizona fact sheet is here.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ