EPA Budget = OR DEQ Cuts of 45%

In the weeks following President Trump’s budget release we’ve all been scrambling to figure out how the cuts will impact Oregon – especially for our air, water and overall environmental health.  We know the projected 31% reduction to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would include drastic cuts to state and local programs, and now we have a better idea of what that really means for Oregon

Under the proposed budget, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality – the state agency responsible for restoring, maintaining and enhancing the quality of Oregon’s air, land and water – could lose nearly half (45%) of its funding from the EPA, as Oregon Public Broadcasting first reported last week.

In a memo obtained by OPB, the projected federal cuts would include losing more than 30 people working within the DEQ’s core programs to protect Oregon’s air and water. If Congress approved the budget as is, the DEQ would be forced to cut state workers who:

  • study & protectwater water quality (14)
  • monitor air quality and issue permits (11)
  • oversee hazardous waste handling (3)
  • support and help manage mission-critical agency programs (4)

Funding for Cleaner Air Oregon, an initiative announced just last year to address air pollution from smaller industrial facilities, would most likely continue, though funding is not certain, (pending outcomes this legislative session). However the reduction in employees to enforce air quality rules could mean that polluters wouldn’t feel pressure to abide by program rules – returning Oregon to the historically unsuccessful approach of voluntary compliance.

Oregon’s water quality program already has one of the country’s worst backlogs of expired water quality permits because there aren’t enough staff to keep up. If DEQ were to lose more than a dozen people as projected, scores of industries and sewage plants would continue to discharge pollutants into our waters under old, less protective requirements.

Mark Riskedahl of the Northwest Environmental Defense Center called these cuts an “obvious, very callous disregard for the weakest and the poorest among us in those figures.” That is true. At OEC we know that pollution, environmental and climate disasters do not strike all Oregonians equally. Low-income communities and communities of color are hit first and worst, and they do not have the ample resources to adapt or evacuate when disaster strikes. They more often live near major roadways, where their health is inordinately impacted by tailpipe pollution. They more often live in housing contaminated with lead and other toxic hazards.

We should be increasing polluter accountability and regulation — not rolling back protections. Calling for any cut of any agency that protects our air, land and water is simply not justified; a 45% cut is nothing short of…intolerable. As the Medford Mail Tribune reports, “Trump budget bad news for nature.”

Despite the hopelessness some may feel at the steady cadence of bad news on the environmental front, OEC is committed to advancing innovative, collaborative and equitable solutions to Oregon’s environmental challenges for today and future generations.

As the new administration attempts to roll back environmental protections, we are buckling down. From our presence in Salem advocating for Clean Energy Jobs, to our participation at rulemaking hearings to ensure new laws protecting our air and children from toxics do not get watered down, to our presence within a broad coalition of stakeholders advocating for a sustainable and equitable water future — you can count on us to be working for Oregon.

Join us in this fight.
And be sure you’re signed up for our
Action Alerts.

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Policy Featured Toxics-Free Environments Toxic Free Priorities Environmental Health Living Green Transportation Solutions Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Air Quality Climate Protection OCAP News OEC News/Updates/Events Water News Media/PR/Statements Water Conservation
Sort by

Could Oregon be the 5th state to pass a ‘right to repair’ law? Here is how you can help!

As a state with a green reputation, the way Oregon interacts with and manages waste materials must continue to evolve in ways that preserve ecosystems, protect human health and waterways, and reduce climate pollution. For decades, Oregon has been a leader in sustainability – with our historic passing of the nation’s first bottle
January 28, 2024, 9:56 pm


Oregonians attend DEQ hearing to speak against EPA rollbacks

Dozens of concerned Oregonians left messages of opposition to proposals that would reverse environmental
October 24, 2018, 4:33 pm


Help sway the EPA for clean car standards to stay

It’s personal. President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency has shown signs it wants to roll back Obama-era rules that thousands of Oregonians and dozens of Oregon businesses successfully achieved before they were adopted nationwide. At stake, rules that would “eliminate as much as
September 28, 2017, 5:57 pm


Pruitt confirmed head of the EPA – Where do we go from here?

With the news of the U.S. Senate voting to confirm Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, it’s time for all of us to pull up our bootstraps and get to work. As OEC shared before, Pruitt is the poster boy for valuing polluters’ profits over people. Pruitt does not believe we should tac
February 17, 2017, 6:38 pm


Just How Essential Is the EPA Anyway?

President-elect Donald Trump has selected Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to run the Environmental Protection Agency. If you’re even peripherally familiar with Pruitt’s environmental record, you know that this appointment is terrifying. For those who don’t know about Pruitt, here’s the lowdown: he’s the poster boy for valuing polluters’ profits over people. Pruitt does not believe in climate change. During his campaign to run for Attorney General,
December 9, 2016, 6:25 pm


Fish Out of Water: Preparing for the next drought on May 4th Forum

It wasn’t a pretty sight. Last summer, 250,000 sockeye salmon—half of the entire annual run—died in the Columbia River when drought and high temperatures peaked in July. Farmers ran tight on water, too. Cities and businesses that usually take ample water for granted watched with alarm as reservoir levels dropped. And dropped. No one was prepared. Recent record winter rains have offset many impacts o
April 19, 2016, 5:26 pm


Duck, cover and be prepared: September is National Preparedness Month

From a climate perspective, Oregon is a potential haven. Some have speculated that as climate impacts become more pronounced, Oregon will be home to a growing number of “climate refugees” because of how amenable our climate is a warming world, compared to other parts of the globe. The realities of climate change are just one of many great reasons to live in Oregon. But if you’re like many other Oregonians, you read the New Yorker article about
September 28, 2015, 8:39 pm


1 Reply to "EPA Budget = OR DEQ Cuts of 45%"