Another Trump Budget, More Broken Promises

Last month, President Trump unveiled his budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2021, once again demonstrating the massive disconnect between the promises he makes and the actions he takes.

March 4, 2020

The president’s 2021 budget cuts efforts to ensure worker and community health and safety, spur U.S. manufacturing and innovation, invest in the communities hardest hit by America’s transition to cleaner, cheaper energy, and protect our environment for future generations. The proposed cuts would make workplaces more dangerous, mean more pollution in our air and water, and stifle economic growth and innovation.

At a time when Americans are facing both the realities of climate change and dwindling middle class job opportunities, this budget proposal falls far short on every level.

Gutting Worker and Community Health & Safety

President Trump’s 2021 budget cuts nearly 11% from the Department of Labor (DOL) and over 26% from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budgets. These cuts would significantly impact the ability of these agencies to protect workers, communities, public health, and the environment. This would also impact the enforcement of industrial safety rules, which help protect communities, workers, and emergency responders from catastrophic industrial chemical releases, fires, and explosions. Bottom line: these cuts would mean fewer inspectors on the job and more people placed in harm’s way.

The president’s budget also seeks to eliminate the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, an independent agency that investigates chemical disasters to figure out why they happened and makes recommendations to ensure they don’t happen again. The budget further eliminates funding for the DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration Susan Hardwood Training Grant Program, which funds training programs for workers and employers in high-hazard industries in order to maintain safety and worker protection in the workplace. Over the last 5 years, this program has trained more than 398,000 workers on workplace safety and health hazards and their responsibilities and rights, targeting underserved, low-literacy, and workers in high-hazard industries. In 2019, the program awarded grants across a wide range of industries, covering training on silica hazards, chemical hazards and hazard communication, fall prevention, excavation and trenching hazards, and oil and gas production hazards. In addition to reaching underserved workers, the program makes all training materials available on OSHA’s website for free.

Hampering Manufacturing and Innovation

Although the president maintains he is pro-worker and pro-American manufacturing, his 2021 budget eliminates critical measures that spur innovation, generate economic growth, and create jobs. When it comes to energy and transportation, this budget would jeopardize the nation’s global competitiveness and innovative edge. The budget proposes eliminating funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), a program at the Department of Energy (DOE) that promotes innovative technology research and development. It would eliminate funding for multiple DOE Loan programs, including the Title XVII Innovative Clean Energy Projects loan program and the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan programs—programs that ensure we both invent the next generation of technology and build it here in America, creating and maintaining high-quality jobs.

The administration’s budget guts funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) in the DOE from $2.79 billion to $720 million—an almost 75% decrease—essentially decimating our clean energy and energy efficiency programs. EERE fills an indispensable role in introducing advanced clean energy and energy efficiency technologies that lower U.S. greenhouse gas emissions while driving the creation of thousands of jobs in manufacturing, and in installing, operating, and maintaining clean energy systems. EERE’s research, commercialization, and deployment efforts have helped to drive down the cost of clean energy technologies and solidified our place in the world as a leader in developing clean energy technologies. Gutting funding for programs that invest in low-carbon energy, energy efficient technologies, and innovative technology is short-sighted, and the United States should not be stepping back from these areas. Instead, we should be doubling down on these investments—reducing carbon pollution and creating the jobs of the future in advanced technology.

Abandoning Hard-Hit Workers and Communities

President Trump’s budget abandons promises made to economically distressed communities like those hit hard by the decline of coal and other technological and economic change. It proposes to eliminate the Economic Development Administration (EDA) from the Department of Commerce, which provides grants and planning assistance to support small businesses, community revitalization projects, and infrastructure repairs. The budget also terminates the Department of Interior’s Abandoned Mine Land (AML) program, which cleans up retired coal mines and revitalizes coal communities.  

Failing to Protect our Environment for Future Generations

Clean air and water are clearly not priorities for President Trump. By gutting funding to the EPA by 26%, President Trump’s proposed budget greatly reduces the agency’s ability to carry out its critical duties of protecting human health and the environment. The president’s budget cuts funding to the EPA’s Science and Technology program by $231 million, Environmental Programs and Management enforcement by $427 million, and Environmental and Justice enforcement by 71%. In addition, the budget proposes a $35 million cut to the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), which provides long-term loans for water and wastewater infrastructure projects, once again dismantling programs that improve and protect communities’ access to clean water.

Additional proposed cuts to the EPA budget would significantly undermine the implementation and enforcement of community safeguards like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, which have protected our environment and public health for decades. The current budget proposal includes a 44% reduction in funding to states and tribes that implement these programs, and a cut of more than 27% to the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds. The State Revolving Funds—which are the primary way in which the federal government supports communities upgrading drinking water and wastewater infrastructure—are cut by a total $782 million. By greatly reducing funding for these programs, the Trump administration is placing the onus of solving critical public health issues on states and tribes while not providing enough funding to adequately solve these issues.

If the EPA does not have adequate funding, the clean air we breathe would be at risk, harmful chemicals in everyday products and the safety of industrial facilities would go unregulated, toxic dumps unmitigated, and bad actors who ignore health and environmental risks would be allowed to continue to pollute our air, land, and water without consequence.

A Budget Out of Alignment with America’s Values

The president’s 2021 Budget is disappointing, short-sighted, and dangerous. Ultimately, Americans want strong protections for the workplace AND the environment. They also want to lead the world in the kind of innovation that will create quality jobs while ensuring we leave a clean and safe environment for future generations. For the third year in a row, President Trump has presented a budget that includes massive cuts to programs that safeguard workers, protect the environment, and spur U.S. innovation—showing once again where his real priorities lie.