Kilmer to EPA Chief: ‘We can’t afford for the EPA to check out on Puget Sound recovery’

Washington, D.C. – Today, during a House Appropriations Committee hearing, Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) pointed out to Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that the severe cuts to the agency in the President’s budget proposal would threaten jobs and violate legal commitments to local and Tribal communities.

The EPA’s proposal eliminates millions of dollars in investments across several programs that all work collectively to protect clean water and promote healthy salmon and shellfish habitat throughout Puget Sound as well as other coastal areas across the country. Kilmer noted to Pruitt that in Washington state, 19 tribes have treaty secured rights in Puget Sound, multiple species – including Orcas and Chinook Salmon – are federally protected, and the agency has statutorily mandated obligations under the Clean Water Act and Federal Water Pollution Control Act, among others.

Watch a video of Kilmer’s exchange with Pruitt click here.

“The EPA is legally required to help keep our air and water clean. In our region, folks will tell you this is an environmental and economic benefit,” said Kilmer. “A benefit to fishing fleets and shellfish growers that create thousands of jobs and generate millions of dollars for our state’s economy. A benefit to thriving businesses connected to the tourism and outdoors that invite people to take in pristine views or spot an orca on the water. I’m going to continue holding the EPA and this administration accountable so they don’t leave people I represent stuck holding the bag.”

Cuts to critical EPA programs include:

  • $28 million from the Puget Sound Geographic Program which supports grants to state, local and tribal governments to help implement Washington's Puget Sound Action Agenda.
  • More than $700 million from State and Tribal Assistance Grants which help to support state and tribal government efforts to implement programs to promote air and water quality and meet their requirements under federal laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act.  
  • $27 million from the National Estuary Program that supports water quality and habitat recovery efforts in the Puget Sound and 27 other estuaries throughout the country.