President Donald Trump called Monday for slashing funding for the Superfund hazardous waste program, even as the backlog of clean-ups has grown around the country for lack of money.
The $113 million in Superfund clean-up cuts are part of Trump’s proposal for a $2.4 billion, or 26%, cut in overall funding for the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s in line with the president’s vow as a candidate to cut all but “little tidbits” of the environmental agency in a push to cut regulations he sees as unnecessarily burdensome to business.
Monday marked the fourth year where Trump has called for cuts nearing one-third of the environmental agency’s budget. Republicans and Democrats in Congress annually have overridden his proposal, keeping funding for the agency’s environmental and public health oversight roughly even.
Other major cuts for the EPA in Trump’s latest proposal include eliminating $66 million in funding for the Energy Star program — a popular program that lets consumers compare the energy efficiency of appliances — and for voluntary climate programs.
“These programs are not essential to EPA’s core mission and can be implemented by the private sector,” the budget says.
Trump and his EPA administrators have stressed Superfund clean-ups as one of their top environmental priorities.
However, as The Associated Press reported in January, the Trump administration has built up the biggest backlog of unfunded toxic Superfund clean-up projects in at least 15 years, nearly triple the number that were stalled for lack of money in the Obama era, agency figures show.
The four-decade-old Superfund program is meant to tackle some of the most heavily contaminated sites in the U.S., which threaten the residents, wildlife and habitat around the sites with dangerous industry pollutants.
Trump’s proposal says the cut reflects that his administration is running the Superfund program more efficiently, and “challenges the agency to optimize the use of settlement funds for the cleanup actions” at those Superfund sites where a responsible company has been found to pay for the work.