Advocates warn that cuts to EPA budget will be felt in Arizona programs

Posted: Updated:
Arizona has nine Superfund sites, but advocates worry that cleanup could lag under a proposed fiscal 2018 budget for the Environmental Protection Agency that would cut the Superfund budget by a third.(Source: markzvo/Creative Commons) Arizona has nine Superfund sites, but advocates worry that cleanup could lag under a proposed fiscal 2018 budget for the Environmental Protection Agency that would cut the Superfund budget by a third.(Source: markzvo/Creative Commons)

By ISAAC WINDES
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality got $315 million in funding for specific federal programs over the past five years – funding that could be endangered by proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency budget.

That was the finding of an Environmental Defense Fund analysis of the fiscal 2018 EPA budget request being considered by the House this week, a budget that cuts the agency’s overall budget from $8.3 billion to $5.7 billion.

An ADEQ spokeswoman said it would be inappropriate to speculate on how pending federal cuts might affect the state agency, where it is “business as usual” for now.

[READ MORE: Is the developed world we've created giving us cancer?]

But ADEQ’s budget request summary for fiscal 2019 said the federal cuts would affect the state agency’s “labor force, our pass-through funding to local government organizations” funding to private-sector organizations. Funding that EDF said will have to be made up by state taxpayers.

The EDF report, released Tuesday, identified nine EPA-funded programs that are “at risk” for Arizona, with three facing elimination and six facing funding cuts between 18 and 30 percent.

One such program is the National Priorities List, better known as Superfund. The program would see nearly $330 million cut from its current budget of $1 billion if the Trump administration’s budget request for the EPA is approved.

[RELATED: Trump budget plan shows how he would reshape nation]

Arizona has nine Superfund sites, toxic sites the government has agreed to clean up. Losing a third of funding to the national program would trickle down to Arizona, which got $8.7 million in Superfund funding from fiscal 2012 to 2016, the EDF report said.

Elgie Holstein, senior director for strategic planning at EDF Action, said those cuts would be followed by the “gradual slowdown or halt in cleanup of Superfund sites and sites with hazardous materials, as well as brownfields sites.”

Another Arizona-friendly program facing a 30 percent cut is the Indian Environmental General Assistance Program, which helps tribal communities with water infrastructure, education and environmental cleanup of hazardous waste.

[READ MORE: Valley cities split on how to handle biohazardous material after crashes, crimes]

The program has been worth about $30 million since fiscal 2012 to Arizona, a state where the Navajo Nation has long struggled with funding to clean up abandoned uranium mines.

While those programs face cuts, other programs like the Nonpoint Source Pollution Implementation Grant face elimination altogether. Arizona got $10 million from the program over the last five years to “control pollutants carried by rainfall runoff into its drinking water, rivers and lakes,” the report said.

Funding could also be eliminated for a program that helps monitor and prevent leaking underground fuel storage tanks – called LUST, for Leaky Underground Storage Tanks – and a separate program that supports human health and safety research.

[RELATED: Trump budget chief on climate change: 'We consider that to be a waste of your money']

Performance Partnership Grants, which let Arizona work with various organizations to achieve environmental goals faces 18 percent cuts. Arizona got $44.9 million for those grants over the five-year report range.

Federal funds for air-quality monitoring would also face a cut of up to one-third. The Clean Air Act Grants have gone to ADEQ, Maricopa and Pima counties, and four Arizona tribal authorities.

[READ MORE: Dangerous chemical found in Valley drinking water]

Holstein said the effect of losing that funding would be felt quickly, with more “code red days,” or days where it is recommended that kids stay indoors because of poor air quality.

“Air quality cuts would be the most immediately visible,” he said. “It would affect people whose children have been diagnosed with asthma, or heart disease.”

Miles Keogh, the executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, said he is not familiar with the methodology of the EDF report. But he agreed that “cutting funding to state and local agencies that promote clean air and public health is likely to diminish their ability to do so.”

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


  • Featured VideoMore>>

  • Up to $15K stolen after card skimmer used on Chandler ATM

    Saturday, November 18 2017 1:47 AM EST2017-11-18 06:47:04 GMT
    (Source: Chandler Police Department)(Source: Chandler Police Department)

    Chandler Police are investigating after a card skimmer was apparently installed on a bank ATM to gather customer account information.  Investigators say the Arizona Bank and Trust drive-up ATM near I-10 and Ray Road was targeted.

    More >

    Chandler Police are investigating after a card skimmer was apparently installed on a bank ATM to gather customer account information.  Investigators say the Arizona Bank and Trust drive-up ATM near I-10 and Ray Road was targeted.

    More >
  • California activists want to send nuclear waste to Palo Verde

    California activists want to send nuclear waste to Palo Verde

    Saturday, November 18 2017 12:28 AM EST2017-11-18 05:28:47 GMT
    (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)(Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

    San Onofre State Beach is a kind of hidden gem among surfers. But there is something about the view here that looks just a little out of place. It’s a nuclear power plant, right on the beach. Some activists want to send the nuclear waste that's housed at San Onofre to Arizona.

    More >

    San Onofre State Beach is a kind of hidden gem among surfers. But there is something about the view here that looks just a little out of place. It’s a nuclear power plant, right on the beach. Some activists want to send the nuclear waste that's housed at San Onofre to Arizona.

    More >
  • Discrepancy in reported cause of death at Dolphinaris raises new concerns

    Discrepancy in reported cause of death at Dolphinaris raises new concerns

    Friday, November 17 2017 11:32 PM EST2017-11-18 04:32:06 GMT
    Bodie the dolphin died on September 23. (Source: Dolphinaris)Bodie the dolphin died on September 23. (Source: Dolphinaris)

    A death report obtained by CBS 5 Investigates shows a different cause of death for “Bodie,” the dolphin, than was initially reported by Dolphinaris Arizona. Bodie died on September 23. 

    More >

    A death report obtained by CBS 5 Investigates shows a different cause of death for “Bodie,” the dolphin, than was initially reported by Dolphinaris Arizona. Bodie died on September 23. 

    More >