Less Shelter from the Storm

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Federal budget proposal risks Washington communities’ safety

Environment Washington

Seattle, WA– After Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria recently pummeled our coasts, Environment Washington warned that pending budget proposals from the Trump administration and Congress threaten key programs that protect our communities from storm- related impacts. The group documented threats to programs that prevent or curb flooding, sewage overflows and leaks from toxic waste sites. Environment Washington also called for preventing more global warming-fueled extreme weather in the future.

“If there is any lesson to be learned from these devastating hurricanes, it’s that Washingtonians deserves better shelter from the storms,” said Bruce Speight, Environment Washington Executive Director. “Rather than protecting our most vulnerable communities, budget proposals on the table in Washington D.C. right now threaten coastal resiliency, remove protections for flood-absorbing wetlands, neglect funding for stormwater and sewage treatment, and expose more Americans to toxic chemicals,” he added.

Environment Washington’s analysis found:

  • Here in Washington, NOAA recommended $2.59 million in Coastal Zone Management Grants to support Washington’s coastal management in 2017, grants that allow our communities to protect their coasts from storms and rising seas. These funds would be cut or eliminated under both the House and Trump administration’s budgets.
  • The Clean Water State Revolving Fund provided $23.2 million in 2016 for Washington to repair and build stormwater and sewage treatment infrastructure. Nationwide, our wastewater systems face a $271 billion backlog, yet the House and President’s spending bills fail to provide proper funding to this critical program. 
  • One in four Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, the most toxic waste sites in the country. Washington has 69 such sites, and the Superfund program is tasked with cleaning up these sites, responding to environmental crises, and protecting the public from hazardous substances, but the Trump administration has proposed cutting the Superfund program by nearly one-third.

State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, Chair of the House Environment Committee says, “Your government is responsible for keeping all of you safe, but we won’t be able to do that if Congress and the President pass this budget. My heart goes out to the mayors and officials in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, who have seen firsthand how powerfully extreme weather can reshape our communities. If there’s one lesson these storms have shown us, it’s that we need more protection for our communities going forward, not less.”

“We need to make our communities less susceptible to flooding, sewage overflows, and leaks from toxic waste sites, and of course we need to prevent even more intense global warming-fueled extreme weather in the future. We’re counting on Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell to protect Washingtonians and pass a budget that puts our families’ health and community’s safety first; one that will give Washingtonians more shelter from the storms ahead.” Speight concluded.

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Environment Washington is a statewide, membership-based environmental advocacy organization that works for clean air, clean water and open spaces. www.environmentwashington.org.

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