Michael Bastasch on August 16, 2017
Many Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) programs are redundant and could be eliminated without hurting environmental quality, according to a new report on reforming the federal bureaucracy.
“The EPA needs to be made more transparent and efficient, a goal that can be achieved while continuing to protect the nation’s environment,” reads the report published by the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) on Wednesday.
CEI gave a series of recommendations on how to make EPA more transparent and accountable, including eliminating regional offices and changing science programs.
“Many of the EPA’s regional offices and grant programs are redundant and should be abolished,” reads the short report written by Myron Ebell, who headed President Donald Trump’s EPA transition team.
“Other reform priorities include improving data quality standards for new research and transferring emergency response duties to the Federal Emergency Management Agency,” Ebell wrote.
The group says EPA’s budget “is the most impenetrable of all federal department and agency budgets,” which makes it hard for Congress to know how taxpayer dollars are being spent. CEI wants EPA to do what other agencies do and put forward a budget that “clearly identifies the spender, how much they spend, and the legal basis for the spending.”
No doubt, CEI’s suggestions will be opposed by environmental groups. Activists opposed President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts to EPA’s budget and elimination of dozens of agency programs.
“There is no way to sugarcoat this, President Trump has taken a wrecking ball to environmental protection in the US,” Ken Kimmell, president of the Union for Concerned Scientists, told CNN in May. “Frankly I didn’t think this would happen with the severity with this is happening. We have had changes in powers before. Different presidents strike a different balance. But this is a severe attack that we didn’t expect.”
Environmentalists have filed dozens of lawsuits to stop Trump’s policy agenda from going through. Environmental activists even filed suit against the U.S.-Mexico border wall being planned by the Department of Homeland Security, arguing it would hurt endangered species.
Targeting EPA science programs has been on the Republican to-do list for years. Conservative groups and lawmakers worry EPA uses science to back pre-determined policy conclusions.
Republicans have also voiced concerns about the impartiality of outside EPA science advisers, most of whom take agency money to conduct research, creating a potential conflict of interest.
The House passed legislation in March to reform how EPA uses scientific research, but the bill hasn’t gotten much attention in the Senate.