On 7 April 2017, reports appeared that the Environmental Protection Agency will shut down a program helping cities and states prepare for the effects of climate change.
The move was allegedly spurred by a 31 percent cut in the agency’s funding by President Donald Trump’s administration. The program, which was administrated by the EPA Office of Policy, will be absorbed into the duties of the agency’s regional offices. Three of the office’s employees will be “reassigned” as part of the move.
We contacted both EPA headquarters and the Office of Policy seeking comment but have yet to hear back. The agency’s website states:
The Office of Policy provides cross-agency leadership and coordination on climate change adaptation. Its goal is to build and strengthen the adaptive capacity of the EPA’s Programs and Regions, and their partners in states, tribes, and local communities. The Office of Policy is leading a Cross-EPA Work Group on Climate Change Adaptation that has developed and is now implementing a Climate Change Adaptation Plan for the agency and 17 Implementation Plans prepared by the National Environmental Program Offices, all 10 Regional Offices, and National Support Offices.
Bloomberg BNA, which published the story, quoted an unidentified agency official who said many regional offices already carry out the work being done by the program. The official said: “The expertise that exists regarding this is still part of our arsenal of knowledge.”
A separate report quoted another unidentified official making the same point, saying:
This is not something that should be controlled from inside Washington, D.C. This is something that the regions themselves know how to deal with, and have been dealing with the entire time.
But the non-partisan Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, which focuses on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and promoting clean energy use, criticized the shuttering of the program saying that it helped foster cooperation between local governments and the private sector. The group’s senior vice president, Janet Peace, said:
The most important thing they do is they facilitate this regional coordination. In our view, coordination is really important because it helps you better prepare whether you’re a company or whether you’re a city.
In March 2017, White House Office of Management and Budget said Mick Mulvaney said that the Trump administration would not spend money addressing climate change, adding, “We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.”
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