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Proposed Budget Called Bad News for Maine's Environment

Proposed EPA cuts come as the administration calls for offshore drilling off the Atlantic coast. (bones64/Pixabay)
Proposed EPA cuts come as the administration calls for offshore drilling off the Atlantic coast. (bones64/Pixabay)
February 14, 2018

AUGUSTA, Maine – Proposed cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would put air and water quality in Maine at risk, according to an environmental advocacy group.

President Donald Trump's proposed budget would cut the EPA's budget by 34 percent, almost $3 billion less than 2017 funding levels.

Lisa Pohlmann, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, predicts federal cuts would mean state cuts. Maine's Department of Environmental Protection depends on federal grants, and Pohlmann says if the president's budget were enacted, the state would feel an impact.

"We rely on federal money to help keep our waters clean, keep toxic chemicals out of the environment, take actions to reduce the threat of climate change," she explains. "All those kinds of things, I'm quite sure, will be impacted – not just here in Maine, but all over the country."

Trump has said he doesn't believe climate change is real, and he is convinced that environmental regulations hamper business development.

Last year, Congress rejected even deeper cuts proposed by the White House. But with the Trump administration also pushing for offshore oil drilling on the Atlantic coast, Pohlmann sees the assault on environmental regulations as deeply troubling.

"Nobody wants to see oil lapping up on the coast of Maine," Pohlmann says. "It's going to impact our tourism industry, it's going to impact the fisheries industry, and it would just be really devastating."

Federal regulators insist that if Atlantic waters are opened for oil drilling, the environment will be protected.

Pohlmann thinks the EPA's budget already falls far short of what is needed to protect the nation's health and environment, so she believes asking for more cuts is going the wrong way.

"It's such a slap in the face to the bipartisan efforts that have put safeguards in place for over 50 years here, and I really hope that the whole proposal will be dead on arrival," she adds.

She says the people of Maine need a strong, functioning EPA.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - ME