Environmental Group: Pollution Programs Have Been Prime Target of Budget Cuts
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - An environmental watchdog group says nearly every state has slashed its investments in making sure your air and drinking water are safe.
The Environmental Integrity Project says all but seven states have fewer pollution control staffers now than a decade ago. Most of those states are spending less too. The group says numbers are unavailable for Wisconsin, Alaska and Hawaii.
EIP calculates Indiana has cut funding of pollution control programs by one-fifth and staffing by one-sixth. Executive director Eric Schaeffer says many states may have targeted environmental programs for spending cuts during the recession, but says most states' overall budgets have grown while pollution budgets remain below where they were. He suggests state legislatures may be more susceptible to pleas from industry. But the federal EPA has cut staff too -- 2,000 jobs under President Obama, and 400 more under President Trump.
Indra Frank with the Hoosier Environmental Council credits legislators with addressing budget needs this year, authorizing the first increase in permit fees in a quarter-century. But she says that only allows the state to maintain last year's funding levels.
Schaeffer argues staffing cuts mean permit requests either get rubber-stamped or backlogged. He says it's a particular problem for drinking water, because testing is more complicated now than it was 10 years ago. Schaeffer says the chlorination which eradicates harmful bacteria carries its own hazards which have to be tested for as well.
(Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)