Put a ($54 billion) Ring on It

Wil Kotnik, Blogger

Once elected, one of the duties of the President is to come forth with a budget proposal: their opinion on where governmental funds are directed, and how much money goes towards those objectives. President Trump released his financial vision for the next year on May 16th, 2017. By now, there’s been quite a bit of expert scrutinization. There’s an obvious inclination of importance towards United States martial defense and security. It’s “obvious” because he’s proposing $54 billion dollars of cuts from other federal governmental areas in order to redirect it to defense purposes. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is threatened with taking one of the most critical hits: a proposed 31% budget cut. That’s the difference from $8.1 billion down to $5.7 billion. The schematic would at the same time rid the EPA of 25% of its 15,000 jobs. The nationwide consequences if such a proposal were to be accepted are by no means obscure. Experts have named some of the more pressing concerns. Among the top was the 90% cut for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which cares for the damaged areas of the largest source of fresh water in the world. In addition, regional clean-up operations for oil-spills and other damaging accidents would be deprioritized, including brownfields—the redevelopment of industrial areas to more sustainable initiatives. There would be more straightforward liabilities as well, things that could damage people without traveling through the circuitous reliance of the environment’s well-being. These things include the 80% budget to the radon gas cleaning initiative, which strives to get rid of the dangerous gas that’s present in an estimated 1 in 15 homes and indirectly causes 21,000 deaths a year through cancer and contaminated drinking water. Speaking of drinking water, public water monitoring stations would also lose attention. That means even less resources would go to places like Flint, Michigan, which has dangerously high levels of lead in the city’s drinking water.

However, the thing to remember is that this is merely the first of Trump’s proposals, before he’d even consulted the cabinet. Environmental Politics Professor Phil Brick thinks there’s no reason to panic yet, while there’s still opportunity for other political authorities to shut the proposal down: “Lots of the things Trump says, he’s not going to do. He said NATO was bad and needs fixing, now it’s his best friend.” Instead what worries Brick in regards to the environment is that at the moment, the Republican platform has numbers where they need numbers; many important governmental branches have a majority of Republican republican representatives. Already their endeavor to privatize federal state land is showing promise in the success of the Dakota Access Pipeline. According to Brick, this is what should concern the environment and those who love it—the stress on the Department of Interior, which is responsible for all Federal public land such as national parks, national monuments, wildlife refuges, and the likes. The Republican platform calls for changes in regards to which land is private versus that which is public. Were more land private, resources could be extracted and the economy can flourish. Many liberals and environmentalists disagree, voicing concern for the devastating environmental impacts of such a mentality. There has already been pressure on the Department of Interior, as the Trump administration tried to undo the Bears Ears National Monument. This is despite the fact that  71% of the population of Utah, where it’s located, supports its representation of Native American strength and unity as well as its aesthetic and environmental value.


What Will Whitman Feel

As Phil Brick pointed out, the blueprint of Trump’s budget proposal is nothing but that—a proposal. There have already been many influential voices of abnegation, which suggests that whatever schematic goes through likely won’t be as extreme as Trump’s original proposal. The importance of this topic, I think, is the insight into what Trump envisions for this country and it’s values. There’s an undoubted dismissal of environmental protection and care, and a prominent rigor in the exploitation of earth’s resources. Trump’s plan, were he to have it his way, would benefit almost explicitly national security and the United States military. Although he may think it’s in the best interest for citizens of the U.S, he’s overlooking the threats that aren’t across borders, such as lead poisoned drinking water, radon gas pipes, pollution, water intoxication through pesticides, and extraction of natural resources such as fracking: essentially, the things that the EPA and Department of Interior are responsible to protect. These are the threats that aren’t attempting to develop nuclear weapons (like North Korea) but reside in our own basements and backyards, and the air we breathe and water we drink. However, they still endanger the health and well-being of United States citizens whom Trump promises to protect.