May 31, 2017. President Trump’s proposed budget would completely eliminate a number of environmental programs. Some of those programs fund state activities to protect against environmental harm, increase energy efficiency, build water/sewer infrastructure and respond to natural disasters. Below, some of the programs zero-funded under the President’s budget*:
♦ Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood zone mapping/flood risk analysis. As part of the federal flood insurance program, FEMA maps flood zones along rivers, streams and ocean shorelines. Flood zone maps have to be updated as shorelines respond to subsidence or sea level rise and upland development increases runoff. The federal flood insurance program uses the maps to set flood insurance rates; the maps also affect state and local construction standards in flood hazard areas. The President’s budget assumes flood zone mapping should be funded by the residents of flood hazard areas and by state governments.
♦ Emergency food and housing grants. FEMA provides grants to states for emergency food and housing needs following natural disasters. The grant funds would be eliminated as duplicative of other programs; federal budget documents also indicate these needs should largely be a state responsibility.
♦ Energy Star Program. The Energy Star program (developed by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency) rates household appliances for energy and water efficiency. Energy Star ratings on high efficiency washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators and other appliances allow consumers to compare energy/water usage and potential cost savings over the life of the appliance. The President’s budget assumes that this kind of consumer rating program can and should be provided by the private sector.
♦ Weatherization Assistance Program. This Department of Energy program provides grants to the states to weather-proof housing for low-income residents. The weatherization program’s goals are to increase energy efficiency and reduce energy bills for low income homeowners.
♦ State Energy Program funds. These Department of Energy grants support state energy initiatives, including programs to increase the energy efficiency of state buildings and infrastructure.
♦ Coastal Zone Management Act Grants. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grants support state coastal management programs. A NOAA grant provides about 50% of the funding for North Carolina’s coastal program, which regulates development affecting significant coastal resources such as coastal wetlands, public trust waters, and ocean/inlet shorelines.
♦ National Estuarine Research Reserves. NOAA also provides significant funding for coastal natural areas set aside for conservation, research and education. North Carolina has four Estuarine Research Reserves: Currituck Banks, Rachel Carson, Zeke’s Island and Masonboro Island. NOAA grants provide about 75% of the funding for management of the N.C. Estuarine Research Reserve sites.
♦ Sea Grant. The federal Sea Grant program supports university-based coastal research and extension services in 33 states and territories on the coasts and Great Lakes. North Carolina’s Sea Grant program, based at North Carolina State University, provides scientific, engineering and legal expertise on coastal issues including wetlands protection, aquaculture, and shoreline stabilization. You can find a description of N.C. Sea Grant programs and activities here.
♦ Rural Water/Wastewater Disposal Program. This Department of Commerce program provides water and sewer grants to rural communities. The President’s budget would eliminate the program as duplicative of infrastructure loans provided through the larger Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs. Unlike the SRF programs, however, the Rural Water and Wastewater Disposal Program provides grants that can be used to support rural economic development. SRF loans must be used to upgrade existing water and sewer systems to meet Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act standards; the loans cannot be used to extend a water or sewer system just to serve new economic development.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
♦ Geographic environmental restoration programs. The President’s budget eliminates funding for a number of regional water quality restoration programs. Most of the programs involve coordination among states and the federal government to solve pollution problems in multi-state water bodies like Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes.
♦ Chemical Safety Board. The Chemical Safety Board — made up of independent experts — investigates chemical accidents and releases. In North Carolina, the Chemical Safety Board has investigated and identified the cause of several incidents, including the 2006 explosion and fire at a hazardous waste facility in Apex that forced the evacuation of 16,000 people.
♦ BEACH program. This EPA program provides grants to support state monitoring of beach water quality during the swimming season. In North Carolina, the Division of Marine Fisheries receives BEACH funding to support the state’s Recreational Water Quality Program. The state program tests the water quality at 240 swimming areas weekly between April 1 and October 31. The water quality monitoring allows the agency to warn the public — and if necessary close a beach for swimming — if bacteria reaches unsafe levels.
* Based on budget documents released by the Office of Management and Budget and informed by additional analysis provided by the Environmental Council of States (an organization of state environmental officials.)