Environmental Integrity Project Examines Federal and State Budgets
The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) has released a report that examines environmental program funding in the lower 48 states in light of the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 2020 strategy to recognize state authority through cooperative federalism. Numbers for Hawaii and Alaska were not available. The EIP's ultimate assessment is that EPA is reducing federal resources in favor of state responsibility for programs at the same time states are reducing their resources thereby threatening the effectiveness of pollution control programs. The report suggests that Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration are using the concept of cooperative federalism to shrink or eliminate the EPA and let states take full responsibility for environmental protection.
The EIP report looks at data covering a decade from 2008 to 2018 and indicates that the EPA’s funding for pollution control and science was cut by 16 percent (adjusted for inflation) and eliminated 2,699 positions (also 16%) during that time. The report shows that 25 states reduced their environmental pollution control budgets by 10% and 16 states reduced these budgets by 20%. Overall, states eliminated 4,400 positions.
The report specifically calls out North Carolina as one of 6 states impacted by big cuts (see page 18 of the report). North Carolina showed the fourth largest cut in environmental spending at 34%. In 2018, North Carolina's environmental budget was $116M adjusted for inflation to 136M compared to a 2018 budget of $90M. North Carolina had the second largest percentage of positions cut with 1,051 positions in 2008 down to 675 positions in 2018 or 35%. When compared to state spending, North Carolina lost 34 percent of its funding, while state spending overall grew by 8 percent. The EIP attempted to identify and distinguish spending for natural resource functions from a department’s overall budget. The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is one of the state agencies that originally included natural resources programs that were redistributed among other agencies when DENR became the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
The Environmental Council of States (ECOS), the national association of state and territorial environmental agency leaders, produced a paper in 2017 supporting cooperative federalism and inviting a national conversation on the topic. The ECOS paper states "We are convinced a recalibration of state and federal roles can lead to more effective environmental management at lower cost—that this is a call for a Cooperative Federalism 2.0."
Environmental Integrity Project Website Post
Environmental Integrity Project | December 5, 2019
The Thin Green Line, Cuts in State Pollution Control Agencies Threaten Public Health | December 5, 2019
ECOS Cooperative Federalism 2.0 Paper
Cooperative Federalism 2.0, Achieving and Maintaining a Clean Environment and Protecting Public Health | June 2017