White House Budget Poses Threat to Health & Safety of Southern Communities
Washington, D.C. – The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) released the following statement after the White House released its proposed budget calling for deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of the Interior (DOI), and critical infrastructure investments, threatening thousands of jobs and the health and safety of millions of Southern families.
"The reckless cuts in the President’s budget put a bullseye on communities in the South, where systematic rollbacks to local safeguards and budgets have left the federal government as a critical backstop to protect the air we breathe and water we drink,” said Nat Mund, SELC Legislative Director. “These draconian budget cuts will cripple the government’s ability to enforce basic protections, jeopardize critical transit projects, endanger the National Parks we love, and hurt local economies by eliminating jobs. Congress needs to cast this ridiculous and backward budget aside and start over with a focus on safeguarding our families, communities, and environment.”
While the Trump Administration said it wants to abandon longstanding federal environmental protections and turn the job of enforcement over to the states, the recent trajectory of Southern states’ budgets and staffing show that the states are not positioned to take on this critical role. In North Carolina, the state environmental agency’s budget decreased 40% from 2011 to 2013; Virginia’s environmental budget went down 20% from 2009 to 2017. In Tennessee, from 2010 to 2014, the state legislature slashed the base budget of the state Department of Environment and Conservation by $20 million and cut nearly 500 jobs.
The Southern Environmental Law Center is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. With nine offices across the region (Charlottesville, VA; Chapel Hill, NC; Atlanta, GA; Charleston, SC; Washington, DC; Birmingham, AL; Nashville, TN; Asheville, NC; and Richmond, VA), SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect the South’s natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org