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Dramatic Cuts To EPA In Leaked Draft Budget Plan Would Gut Puget Sound Programs

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
A Washington state ferry sails on Elliott Bay near West Seattle, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016, in Seattle

U.S. Representatives from Washington have pledged to fight hard against cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency that would devastate efforts to clean up Puget Sound. They say a draft plan from the Trump administration would slash federal funding for the Sound by 93 percent, to just $2 million. 

Congressman Derek Kilmer says he’s expecting to see substantial cuts to the EPA, including money for Puget Sound.  He says the Trump administration has confirmed an intention to cut the agency overall by at least 25 percent.      

But when the Oregonian reported details of a draft budget that would slash Puget Sound recovery funding to $2 million, he was shocked.

“You know many years back, Puget Sound funding was at the 50-million-dollar level.   And now we’re in the twenties. To have it go to two would be truly devastating to the progress we’re trying to make to recover the Sound,” Kilmer said.

He says the money is needed to continue work improving water quality, restoring shellfish beds and revitalizing salmon runs.    

Kilmer and his colleague Congressman Denny Heck, both Democrats, formed the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus in 2013. They say the EPA money is vital because it is leveraged for matching funds from other federal agencies and local sources.

Kilmer serves on the House Appropriations Committee as well an Interior subcommittee that has jurisdiction over EPA funding. He pledged in a statement to “fight back against this completely irresponsible proposal.”   

The draft budget was leaked to the Oregonian, which reported Thursday that the planned cuts to the EPA would slash its workforce by almost 3,000 employees and its budget by $2 billion.

Kilmer says he expects to see a final budget in a few weeks.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.
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