Written by Cori Jaskiewicz, Environmental Engineer, who works for BBJ Group’s Compliance Practice in our Grand Rapids, MI office.
"Change is the only constant in life,” Ron Hutchens, Principal at BBJ Group and moderator for the day, said opening the seminar quoting ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus. Indeed, the inevitable change to come was the underlying theme of most panelist responses. The ‘Skinny Budget’, as one panelist referred to President Trump’s proposed budget, slashed EPA funding by 31%. The final budget approved by Congress is unlikely to be exactly the same as President Trump’s proposed budget. While no one knows for sure how the budget is going to end up, cuts to the EPA are not only anticipated but assumed.
How "New" is this Change?
Budget cuts are nothing new, Stephen Colantino, Office of Brownfields Manager at the Illinois EPA, assured the audience. Only 20 to 30% of the IEPA’s budget is federally funded, and the focus is already on efficiency and the core programs. Joe Dufficy, Land Revitalization Branch Chief for EPA Region 5, indicated that there will likely not be much visible change early on, and that EPA will continue to stay in the background. Any potential changes would likely be seen in a year or two.
Hear the Panel's Outlook
What Does that Mean for Business?
Whether big or small, visible or behind the scenes, it is agreed that change is in the future. So how will the EPA endure? The general consensus appeared to be “by going back to the basics”. Protecting public health will be the priority. That means cleanup of sites that are rural, public, and aren’t driven by the market will likely will move ahead slower. With fewer resources available at state and federal levels, an increase will most likely be seen in permitting, approvals, and review times. Contaminated site cleanups that are privately funded or economically-driven will see less of a slowdown, especially sites that hinder corporate image or have attention from citizen groups.