Report: The EPA just shut down its most significant climate safety programs

The EPA is closing down programs that help cities and states adapt to the changing climate, according to a report from Bloomberg BNA’s Andrew Childers and Tiffany Stecker.

Childers and Stecker’s report, sourced to multiple agency employees as well as former employees still in touch with the agency, states that “more than 40” employees will be transferred to new positions in the agency and away from programs that address climate issues.

The closing programs are dedicated to smart growth, regulatory innovation, and climate preparedness. Here’s what that means:

  • Smart growth refers to a series of EPA programs dedicated to helping communities grow their economies in ways that are sustainable and support public health. The EPA website touts the example of Atlantic Station, a major poisonous “brownfield” site in midtown Atlanta where an old steel facility once operated. Atlantic Station is being cleaned up and converted into a mixed-used residential and commercial district.
  • Regulatory innovation refers, broadly speaking, to efforts to craft new regulatory methods that solve problems the agency has struggled or failed to solve in the past.
  • Climate preparedness is the most significant project for addressing the impacts of climate change at the EPA. The EPA’s climate preparedness programs tend to be very local, developed to help cities, towns, tribes, and states adapt their infrastructures and economies to deal with changing sea levels, worsening storms, melting ice, drought, and other issues.

Nothing in this report is exactly a surprise. Trump has proposed steep cuts at the agency in his budget, and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney has suggested that climate programs are, “a waste of your money,” and said, “We’re not spending money on that anymore.”

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