Hawaiʻi AG Urges Congress to Refrain from EPA Cuts

March 31, 2017, 4:19 PM HST · Updated March 31, 4:25 PM
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Attorney General Doug Chin. Courtesy photo.

Hawaiʻi Attorney General Doug Chin joined attorneys general from 12 states and the District of Columbia in expressing their opposition to all legislative or budgetary measures that would reduce funding for the Environmental Protection Agency.

The announcement was made in a March 30, 2017 letter to the United States House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

In the White House’s 2018 budget blueprint, the President has proposed a 31% cut to the EPA’s budget, the biggest cut of any federal agency, which opponents say could impact crucial programs that the agency oversees.

Attorney General Chin said, “Tourism is Hawaiʻi’s main economic driver and the work done by the EPA to enforce critical environmental laws to preserve air and water quality has helped maintain Hawaiʻi’s natural beauty and, therefore, its economic prosperity. As the letter I have co-signed with my fellow attorneys general notes, these cuts to the EPA would have a chilling effect on the ability to hold polluters accountable.”

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In Hawaiʻi, the Environmental Management Division in the State Department of Health receives significant amounts of federal funding each year from the EPA. Reducing this funding, Chin says, would “critically damage EMD’s ability to safeguard clean air and water, and its ability to ensure the proper management of hazardous materials.”

The EPA also provides grants to the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund, which have facilitated hundreds of wastewater, storm water, nonpoint sources, and green infrastructure projects throughout Hawaiʻi.

According to information released by AG Chin, oss of funding for the EPA would also, “critically harm the health of thousands of individuals, and allow large private and federal facilities to evade environmental regulation, setting America’s environmental policies back decades, potentially causing irreparable harm to critical natural resources.”

Spearheaded by Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, the letter was signed by attorneys general from Connecticut, Hawaiʻi, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington D.C.

In the letter, the attorneys general reference significant improvements to the quality of America’s natural resources over the past decades, and concern over what the impact of the proposed funding cuts would mean. As the letter states:

“In the almost fifty years since the EPA was established our nation’s air, water and other natural resources have become much cleaner, and the health and quality of life for millions of Americans has greatly improved. Decimating the EPA and states’ ability to enforce the nation’s environmental laws would bring us back to the dark days of environmental regulation before establishment of EPA in 1970, with rampant and toxic air pollution, devastating discharges of industrial effluents and raw sewage into our waterways, poisoning of drinking water by the uncontrolled dumping of hazardous waste, and the harmful effects of unchecked environmental degradation on our health and quality of life.”

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