Zika, Dengue prevention efforts in Puerto Rico to suffer under Trump’s EPA budget plan
President Trump recently released his budget, which includes huge increases in military spending, at the cost of major cuts in domestic policies and agencies. While the specific cuts and sizes have not been determined, as the budget must be approved by Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency is one of the agencies targeted. This does not come as a shock, as there has been talk of cutting the agency since his inauguration, and even before, but the size of the cuts required is disconcerting.
The EPA is already on shaky ground following the confirmation of Scott Pruitt as Administrator. Founded in 1970 by Richard Nixon, the EPA was a response to strong public opinion that something must be done to protect the environment. It handles everything from clean air, water, and land, to chemicals and toxins, cleaner living, and public health. It affects almost every part of United States citizen’s daily lives.
And it is not just an incredibly important government agency, it also affects far more than just the continental United States. The EPA in Puerto Rico works on problems such as mosquito control, aiming to protect and educate citizens about the dangers of Zika virus, Dengue virus, and West Nile virus. It also works to resolve local and regional water issues through the Puerto Rico Water Resources and Environmental Research Institute. The EPA has many other focuses as well, including climate change, which directly impacts island states and nations through sea level rise, and increased storms and natural disasters, such as hurricanes.
It is impossible to know what the cuts might mean for different areas of the agency, but it is certain that it will be impossible to perform all of the critical actions that it now undertakes. The budget is not final, and will have to be passed through Congress, so there is no guarantee that Trump’s huge military increase will come to pass, but cuts are likely. Especially considering that Trump has said he wished to cut the EPA for quite some time, large cuts can be expected.