Friday, May 26, 2017

National Law Journal: Lawsuit Over Trump’s 2-For-1 Executive Order On Regs Will Go Forward

The National Law Journal Tuesday reported U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss denied a Trump Administration request to freeze action on the lawsuit challenging President Trump’s Executive Order requiring agencies to eliminate two regulations for every new one they propose.
The lawsuit targeting Trump’s 2-for-1 regulatory order was filed by Public Citizen, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Communication Workers of America.
They contend the order exceeds the president’s constitutional authority, violates his duty under the Constitution’s take care clause, and orders federal agencies to engage in unlawful actions that will harm Americans, including those organizations’ members.
Thirteen public health organizations have filed an amicus brief supporting the challengers. The Trump administration has drawn a supporting brief from 14 states led by West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Click Here to read the entire article.
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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Conservation In The Delaware River At Stake In Trump Budget Proposal

President Trump Tuesday released a more detailed budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018 recommending severe cuts to the Department of Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency, among other areas.
If enacted, these reductions would result in the elimination of funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Chesapeake Bay Program, and other geographic watershed programs, as well as the National Estuary Program and critical water quality research and support grants that go directly to the states.
This would halt critical work around the country that has shown real success in protecting, preserving, and restoring our nation’s waters.
"Investing in the restoration of our nation’s watersheds yields tremendous returns, from improved drinking water quality and enhanced habitat for fish and wildlife. In addition to natural benefits, investment in our watersheds provides a many fold return in direct economic benefits that result from tourism, outdoor recreation, and related activities. It is short-sighted to decimate funding for these crucial programs, and a proposal we plan to fight as hard as we can,” said Drew Tompkins, public policy coordinator of New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.
The Delaware River Basin Restoration Program, which was established at the very end of last year within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has yet to receive funding and could lose out if this limited budget were approved by Congress.
The program sets out to identify, prioritize, and implement restoration and protection projects throughout the watershed while supporting locally-led projects through technical assistance and a new grant program.
This non-regulatory, bottom-up approach is intended to support critical conservation work across the watershed by leveraging private investment as part of the 50 percent non-federal match requirement for the grant program.
“Conservation of the natural resources in major watershed across the country has garnered strong bipartisan support in Washington, DC for years, and this commitment was recently extended to the Delaware when Congress passed the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act in December 2016.” said Madeline Emde, Conservation Associate for the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed at New Jersey Audubon.
While funds have not yet been appropriated for this new program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already started to develop of a basin-wide strategy for this important work.
The Service began mapping out a framework for the program in January and coordinated closely with the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed and other stakeholders in the basin to accurately reflect the needs and potential solutions to challenges in the watershed.
This investment is laudable, but the Service will need much more to implement the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program strategy.
The 14.5 percent cut to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s budget in the Administration’s FY 2018 proposal is consequently disconcerting.  
“We are troubled to see the lack of support for the Department of Interior and regional watershed programs similar to the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program in the proposed budget,” said Madeline Urbish, Director of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed at New Jersey Audubon, “We are hopeful, however, given the overwhelming public and bipartisan Congressional support for this issue and look forward to working with our members of Congress to ensure the program is funded through the appropriations process.”
It is imperative that Congress follow through on its intent when it authorized the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program last year and provide robust funding sufficient to implement the framework mapped out by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed website.
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Friday, May 19, 2017

Trump’s Final 2018 EPA Budget Recommendations Offer No Relief From Drastic Cuts

Reports Friday about the Trump Administration’s final recommendations for the FY 2018 federal budget offer states and the public little or no relief from the drastic cuts proposed in the Administration’s proposed budget blueprint in March.
Budget figures obtained by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies released Friday clearly show 40 percent or more cuts to funding to pay states for administering federal programs, the total elimination of the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes Cleanup Programs, cuts to Superfund cleanups, underground storage tanks and much more.
The figures do not deal with cuts to other federal agencies like Agriculture, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy that are critical to state environmental protection efforts.
Click Here for a rundown on cuts recommended in the March blueprint.
While Congress was able to get the votes to restore similar cuts to the FY 2017 budget that passed on May 4, the Trump Administration has always said the real budget fight is for FY 2018 appropriations which need to be finalized in September.
The final recommended numbers are due to be released the week of May 22.
Impact On DEP
The state Department of Environmental Protection receives 30 percent of its funding from the federal government to pay for programs DEP’s administers for the federal government.
The funding is critical to supporting air quality, water quality, safe drinking water, storage tank, hazardous waste regulation and cleanup, surface mine regulation, mine reclamation and other programs.
These potential federal funding cuts come on top of a 40 percent cut in state General Fund support for DEP over the last 14 years and a now 25 percent cut in its staff.
The cuts proposed in the Trump budget would cripple DEP’s key environmental programs, especially since they are occurring on top of the state cuts.
DEP has had no choice but to raise permit review fees to make up for lost state revenue in the past.  It may not have any choice but to further increase fees on local governments and businesses to make up for this new loss of federal revenue if these programs are to survive in an effective form.
Other Reaction
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation issued a state late Friday saying, "It is outrageous that the Administration would eliminate programs that protect clean water, like the Chesapeake Bay Program—this is a program that is effective and yielding results.
"The Chesapeake Bay Program has strong bipartisan support because it is working. Female crab numbers are up, oysters are rebounding, and we have had record acreage of Bay grasses in each of the last four years.
"In addition, the Bay and its rivers and streams support hundreds of thousands of jobs, and are also critical to our quality of life; our property values; and safe, drinkable water.
"People across the nation value clean water, and their Representatives in Congress heard that message when the Administration attempted to zero out funding for the rest of this fiscal year.
"The Bay Program is the glue that holds the multi-state restoration effort together. If it is eliminated, there is the very real chance that the Bay will revert to a national disgrace with deteriorating water quality, unhealthy fish and shellfish, and water-borne diseases that pose a real threat to human health.
"The federal/state effort to restore local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay is a prime example of the cooperative federalism that the Administration has indicated it would like to foster. It makes no sense to end this partnership, especially when it is showing such success. The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure and our children and grandchildren will benefit from the work being done today."
Click Here to send a message to your member of Congress about these budget cuts to the Chesapeake Bay Program.
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