The federal budget sequester took effect on March 1 with a number of likely environmental impacts.
With $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next decade and $85 billion through the end of the fiscal year in September, layoffs and difficulties in enforcing the nation’s environmental regulations are expected. The National Parks Service is slated to lose over $100 million. The budget cuts will also likely affect the Environmental Protection Agency’s operations as its works to finalize new power plant emissions rules. Earlier this week, acting administrator of the EPA Bob Perciasepe wrote in an email to staff, according to Reuters, “The arbitrary nature of the required budget cuts of sequestration would force us to implement employee furloughs over the remainder of the fiscal year.” At the Department of Energy, outgoing secretary Steven Chu noted that the sequester would also impact clean energy development. He wrote in a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, “Under sequestration, funding reductions would decelerate the Nation’s transition into a clean energy economy, and could weaken efforts to become more energy independent and energy secure, while spurting overall economic growth.” Environmental groups have quickly condemned the cuts and their likely effects. Unfortunately, the reality exists in this country that we cannot continue to spend more than we take in. Changes are necessary for the future generations of this country. Hard choices need to be made. Keeping our environment healthy is a key component to the health and welfare of the U.S. There needs to be a realistic solution to keeping it safe under the current budgetary quagmire.
Photo Credit: John Vlahakis