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Leahy Slams President's Budget Plans, Which Would Slash EPA Funding

Kathleen Masterson
Sen. Leahy used a Friday news conference to criticize President Donald Trump's spending priorities.

Sen. Patrick Leahy denounced the president's budget priorities, which would cut funding to environment and health research programs in order to increase defense spending. Leahy says budget cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency would have a direct impact in Vermont.

Speaking at the ECHO Center in Burlington Friday, Leahy said that President Donald Trump's proposal to boost military spending by $54 billion and to build a wall at our southern border is "reckless and short-sighted."

He said it could lead to at a 13 percent cut across the board of all federal agencies. And some would be hit particularly hard:

"The Environmental Protection Agency could lose a quarter of its funding; it could lose 20 percent of its staff," he said. "And that means these gains that we've slowly and carefully made, gains that are there for the next generation, will be gone."

President Trump will send a formal budget to Congress later this month, and it will be up to legislators to write the final spending plan. 

But if the EPA does suffer cuts, Vermont may well feel the impacts. According to Leahy's office, the EPA funds 40 percent of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. That funding supports one-third of the departments staff. 

Here are a few more ways federal dollars are spent in Vermont, according to Sen. Leahy's office:

  • "The Clean Water State Revolving Fund delivered more than $6 million to Vermont in 2016.  Including loan repayments to Vermont that year of over $10 million results in more than $17 million in EPA funding available for sewer and storm water projects."
  • "The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund provided $8.8 million to Vermont in FY16."
  •  "The Lake Champlain Basin Program received $4.4 million in EPA funding combined from FY15 and FY16."
  • "The EPA has made $40 million in Brownfields investments in Vermont since the program’s inception in 1994."