A former EPA official isn’t happy with President Donald Trump’s budget cuts, because he thinks EPA regulations help grow the economy.
Trump’s cuts could do “unimaginable” damage to the EPA’s mission, Tom Burke, former deputy assistant administrator of the EPA, told Global Health NOW. When asked if EPA regulations had prevented jobs from being created, Burke claimed the exact opposite had occurred.
“The EPA does not stifle jobs,” Burke said. “Just look at the economic recovery. The Obama administration in the last eight years was devastating for jobs? Not true. There’s been a tremendous recovery. Some of the most booming industries in the world are related to the environment in the renewable energy sector.”
The number of jobs killed by EPA regulations is difficult to track, but a 2012 report by National Economic Research Associates estimated the agency has caused 887,000 job losses across the economy annually. A U.S. district court ruled in October that EPA had not adequately analyzed how many job its regulations killed.
Trump recommended that Congress slash the EPA’s budget by 31 percent. If Congress approves of the cuts, EPA will see its budget cut from $8.2 billion to $5.7 billion, the lowest funding levels in 40 years — adjusted for inflation. EPA’s 15,000-strong workforce could be cut to 12,000 employees.
He pledged during his campaign to get rid of the agency “in almost every form,” leaving only “little tidbits left.”
“I am very concerned about people in junior positions, postdocs, and leaders of the future,” Burke continued. “I’m very concerned about the brain drain. It will be tremendously difficult to rebuild. It took a long time to rebuild agencies after Reagan’s cutbacks.”
EPA employees have reportedly arrived at work in tears because of Trump. An anonymous EPA communications career employee told Pro-Publica that “more than a few friends were ‘coming to work in tears’ each morning as they grappled with balancing the practical need to keep their jobs with their concerns for the issues they work on.”