“The EPA is not just this hippy, dippy organization, it is our ability to exist in the environment in a healthy way and to fix a lot of the damage that we’ve done.” Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus told me.
We’re talking about a recent executive order from President Donald Trump that would put a temporary freeze on certain funding coming from the Environmental Protection Agency, i.e. grants and contracts.
The Administration says the freeze is “temporary.” Bonitatibus says she hopes that’s accurate because she believes water and air quality can depend on it. In Georgia for example, there is one major Superfund site and says EPA contracts play a part in the clean up of that site. ‘”You have entities with agreements that have been made for clean up operations all over the place that are reliant upon EPA funding,” she said.
There is no word any Superfund clean up sites will not get the money expected at this time.
EPA also provides some funding to the Georgia Department of Environmental Quality (EPD.) In 2011, the agency was criticized for how it handled the fish kill in the Ogeechee River, including whether a textile plant had had regular inspections. At the time, people like Bonitatibus said the agency was experiencing budget cuts and had lost staff. Now she says any word of a freeze means at least the concern that EPA funding may not get passed down to the state agency. “”They would have to take on the burden of doing any of the work that EPA was doing for them in the state and that puts the burden even further on a defunded agency,” Bonitatibus said.
However, a spokesman for the EPD told us they have had “no effects since the freeze was called last week.” He also told us their understanding is it will be only temporary,