The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – A 2017 Federal Policy Wrap
It’s felt like a pretty long year – and now with a few days to go until 2018 we thought we’d take a sec to reflect on 2017:
The Good – In 2017, it’s been so encouraging to see the immense numbers of people who are engaging with their decision makers about the issues that matter to them – many for the first time. A lot of those efforts are being led, coordinated and supported by water champions throughout the country. Throughout the year collectively we have submitted comment letters, tweeted, shared information on Facebook, attended Town Hall meetings, made trips to DC, signed-on to letters, and galvanized networks to stop rollbacks to the regulations and funding that help keep our nation’s waters healthy. We are making a difference and our voices are being heard.
The Bad – In addition to rollbacks of key environmental and health regulations, including attacks on the Clean Water Rule, 2017 has been a bad year for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Even with improvements from the President’s proposed 2018 budget, the Senate’s proposed budget still cuts almost $150 million from EPA’s budget, on top of a “brain drain” of EPA staff through buyouts and retirements. Further, it was revealed that records of EPA staff emails and calls have been requested of those who have spoken out or participated in rallies. In the coming year, we’ll need to continue to support the EPA staff who work hard to protect and restore the nation’s waters and continue to call for level funding of EPA’s budget.
The Ugly – The continuing resolution for the budget keeps continuing – the current one funds the government through January 19th. Environmental “riders” are still in play as part of the budget debate and the recently passed tax bill has adverse implications for the environment as well as some wins, like maintaining the tax-exempt status for municipal-issued bonds for water and infrastructure projects.
Looking forward, there’s still time! You can send a holiday message to your members of Congress that tells the story of the important roles EPA and federal investment plays in your state. For ideas and communications resources, please visit River Network’s Budget Toolkit.
Thanks for all you do to protect our communities and waterways – we look forward to more work with all of you to leverage the voices of our Network for a healthier 2018!