Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...
The Trump administration has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to stop issuing grants and contracts, throwing agency programs into a state of uncertainty as budgets and priorities are reviewed.
President Donald Trump, who promised in his campaign to rein in the agency’s funding and rulemaking authority, has also placed a freeze on hiring federal workers, a hold on fresh regulations from the Obama administration’s final months, and—most recently—blocked EPA employees from issuing press releases, blog updates or social media posts.
The freeze on grants and contracts, should it extend into spring, could affect a wide range of environmental efforts, from the cleanup of contaminated waste sites, to water quality testing and analysis of climate change research. Much of those funds go to state agencies, where the absence of a budget for this fiscal year means some states are nearing the end of their reserves.
“There are states that will run out of federal funds very quickly,” Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, executive director and general counsel for the Environmental Council of the States told Bloomberg BNA, adding “at least one state has indicated they are down to their last $60,000.” Dunn, whose organization represents state environmental agencies, declined to say which states are facing the steepest challenges.
Congress did not pass the fiscal year 2017 spending bill for the EPA last year, and instead voted on a continuing resolution in December to fund the federal government through April 28, 2017. Some states have not yet received funding through April, Dunn said.
Dunn said that her organization and its state agency members received no information on the scope or duration of the freeze, whether it affects state and tribal assistance grants, or whether it will freeze performance partnership agreements or third-party contractors.
The EPA spent about $5.3 billion in fiscal year 2016 on grants and contracts, according to Usaspending.gov. Spending stayed level around $6 billion per year for most of President Obama’s tenure, with the exception of fiscal year 2009 when the amount rose to $11.6 billion due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or stimulus funds.
Doug Ericksen, communications director for Trump’s EPA transition team, confirmed to Bloomberg BNA that there is a hold on outgoing funds and decision-making related to EPA grants and contracts. The freeze could be as short as couple of days and is intended to give the new administration time to understand where the funds are going and how they are being used, Ericksen said. He emphasized that nothing has been canceled.
The Trump administration is looking for proposals across the government for ways to trim the budget, Ericksen said, a step he called “pretty standard.”
But the move leaves a bad first impression for state agencies, whose authority EPA administrator nominee Scott Pruitt said he would elevate under Trump.
“What is of great concern to us is the lack of communication and consultation with states,” said Dunn. “We would hope again that this is an initial misstep and that in the future we will have a more cohesive communication plan for this kind of information.”
Rachel Leven in Washington, D.C., contributed to this story.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at email@example.com
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)