In the end, Congress balked at the Administration’s proposed 30 percent cut to the EPA budget and provided an overall flat appropriation for FY 2018. While a relief for environmental and climate researchers, this comes amid large funding boosts to other science agencies such as NIH, following a recent budget deal to raise overall discretionary spending over the next two years. Congress also rejected the Administration’s attempts to implement a "workforce reshaping" program that would have reduced the number of EPA scientists through organizational restructuring efforts. Lawmakers did not include any of the $12 million in requested funds for EPA workforce reshaping, and expect the agency will not consolidate or close any regional offices in FY 2018, per language inserted into the omnibus bill.
Bottom Line: The EPA budget would total $8.1 billion, the same as FY 2017 enacted. The agency’s Science and Technology (S&T) account would see corresponding flat funding.
What’s Flat/Decreasing: EPA’s five core S&T programs would all be flat-funded (see Funding Table linked above); further details are not provided within the omnibus.
What’s New: The omnibus legislation directs EPA S&T to conduct a study, utilizing partnerships with not-for-profit institutions, on the effectiveness of environmental regulations relating to unconventional oil and gas development.
In Historical Context: The FY 2018 omnibus would leave EPA’s estimated R&D budget approximately 34 percent below FY 2005 levels, after adjusting for inflation (see graph above).
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Photo Credit: US EPA