You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Trump’s budget spells end for some Texas environmental projects


Highlights

White House calls for “streamlining environmental protection.”

Texas unlikely to ante up money to continue programs, says one former state environmental official.

Even as EPA expected to keep existing grant obligations, future grant opportunities may vanish.

Programs that aim to rid water wells of arsenic in poor pockets of South Texas, prevent bioterrorism and redevelop former industrial sites into parks in East Austin appear to be in jeopardy under President Donald Trump’s budget proposal.

Seeking a “broader strategy of streamlining environmental protection,” the White House has suggested cutting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency budget by nearly a third.

To achieve its aims, the Trump budget proposal, released Thursday, “eliminates or substantially reduces federal investment in state environmental activities.”

If Congress adopts the Trump proposal, a range of programs in Texas are likely to feel the pinch.

TEXAS POLITICS DELIVERED EVERY DAY: Sign up for our Texas Politics email

Nearly 10 percent of state environmental protection programs are paid for directly by EPA grants that now appear to be in jeopardy.

Those grants amount to nearly $50 million this year.

Among them: $500,000 for dam safety; $2.4 million for the BioWatch program, which aims for the early detection of bioterrorism agents to enable the earliest possible response to an attack; and $2.3 million to address leaking underground oil storage tanks.

The biggest chunk of grant-making from the EPA to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is $21.2 million, to help Texas address its environmental priorities, cut pollution, and achieve administrative savings.

“The budget returns the responsibility for funding local environmental efforts and programs to state and local entities,” according to the budget proposal.

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Lone Star Politics page brings Capitol news to your Facebook feed

But Texas officials are unlikely to step in with state money to prop up these programs, said Larry Soward, a Gov. Rick Perry appointee who served as a commissioner at the state environmental agency from 2003 to 2009.

The Trump budget also calls for eliminating EPA “infrastructure assistance” along the Mexico border.

More than 300 communities in Texas, many in border areas, lack access to potable water or adequate wastewater disposal.

In the Lower Rio Grande Valley, the EPA is working with leaders representing more than a dozen colonias to address a malfunctioning wastewater facility and the cleanup of a hazardous superfund site.

Another EPA border program involves collaboration with Mexico to reduce air pollution, improve clean water access, and improve the disposal of waste like tires and trash.

And the budget would phase out EPA’s research grants to environmental scientists and engineers, which the Trump budget refers to as “extramural activities.”

Those grants include just over $3.9 million awarded last year to the University of Texas to develop research into water infrastructure.

Researchers have said EPA is likely to meet its current grant obligations, including an $820,000 grant awarded in 2016 to the city of Austin to clean up former industrial sites and redevelop them into things like affordable housing and parks.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

JUST IN: Man may have tried to impersonate an officer while pulling driver over, Hays County deputies say
JUST IN: Man may have tried to impersonate an officer while pulling driver over, Hays County deputies say

Investigators are looking for someone who may have been impersonating a police officer while attempting to pull someone over in Hays County. On Thursday night, a woman reported that she was driving with a friend on FM 2001 near Goforth Road in Kyle when a light-colored Chevrolet pickup truck with damage to its front left quarter panel activated red-and-blue...
Murder suspect out on bond after DA fails to take case to grand jury

A murder suspect who authorities believe has deep ties to the Crips street gang is out on bond because Travis County prosecutors didn’t take his case to a grand jury in the time required by state law. On Monday, state District Judge Brad Urrutia released Joseph Sterling, 28, on a personal bond that cost the defendant about $40. Law mandates a...
UPDATE: Hays High School student killed in crash near Buda, officials say
UPDATE: Hays High School student killed in crash near Buda, officials say

A Hays High School sophomore has died and another person is injured after a two-car crash near Buda, a spokesman with the Hays school district said. The crash happened about 4:30 p.m. in in the 2600 block of Jack C. Hays Trail, officials said. The person who died was a 16-year-old girl, said school district spokesman Tim Savoy. The school district...
Could old medical building become new affordable housing complex?
Could old medical building become new affordable housing complex?

On the northeastern edge of downtown sits an empty four-story building that could help meet Austin’s growing demand for affordable housing. The city recently bought the HealthSouth building at Red River and 12th streets, a facility that previously housed a physical rehabilitation center. Now some City Council members want to investigate the possibility...
Judge rules lawsuit can proceed in violent arrest of Breaion King
Judge rules lawsuit can proceed in violent arrest of Breaion King

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks has ruled that a lawsuit against the city of Austin in the July 2015 violent arrest of teacher Breaion King can proceed and denied a request by city officials that it be thrown out. Sparks had initially dismissed the city as a defendant, saying that the lawsuit wasn’t specific enough. But King’s attorneys...
More Stories