White House considering gutting 38 EPA programs: draft budget

Purestock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is considering deep cuts to programs and staffing at the Environmental Protection Agency as part of its first federal budget process, according to administration and environmental community sources.

A draft EPA budget document obtained by ABC News includes the virtual elimination of 38 EPA programs, including initiatives to clean up and restore the San Francisco Bay, Lake Champlain and Long Island Sound. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative would be all but eliminated, going from $300 million budgeted in fiscal 2016 to $10 million in fiscal 2018 -- a 97 percent cut.

Overall, the administration is considering a 25 percent reduction in the annual EPA budget from $8.25 billion to $6.15 billion and a resulting reduction in workforce of 19 percent, about 3,000 full-time employees, according to the draft.

"People will get sick or die if these cuts are made," said Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, which received a copy of the draft from an administration official and shared it with ABC News.

A White House official confirmed the authenticity of the document to ABC News, but said it was an early draft.

"These are moving targets. Nothing is accurate until they are final," the White House official said.

The EPA declined to comment, but in an interview with CNN earlier this week, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the agency is still deciding where to make cuts.

“As far as the budget is concerned, that process is just beginning. Obviously lots of discussions will take place between the executive branch and congress and we'll work through the process in the right way,” said Pruitt.

President Trump has called for a $54 billion increase in defense spending and corresponding cuts across other federal agencies as he prepares to submit his full proposal to Congress. The EPA document is an early look at the types of cuts those agencies may be preparing to make.

"The budget blueprint will be released in mid-March. It would be premature for us to comment on – or anyone to report – the specifics of this internal discussion before its publication," John Czwartacki, OMB communications director, told ABC News.

"The president and his cabinet are working collaboratively to create a budget that keeps the president’s promises to secure the country and be more mindful of every taxpayer’s dollar," he said.

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