Report shows most states cut spending on environmental protection in past decade

A new report out from the Environmental Integrity Project shows that in the past decade, at least 30 states have slashed funding for their environmental protection agencies. Oklahoma was not one of them but it has reduced its employment in the area of environmental protection.

The report says 20 states saw funding cut by more than 20 percent when adjusted for inflation. Only California grew its work force while the rest of the states saw a 14 percent reduction in staffing.

Documents show Oklahoma’s Department of Environmental Quality had actual spending of $49,052,000 in 2008 while the amount spent adjusted for inflation was $57,390,840. Ten years later in 2018, the DEQ had spending of $67,820,000 which an increase of $10,429,160.

However, the Oklahoma DEQ staff numbers went from 539.9 in 2008 to 521 in Fiscal year 2018.

“Industry lobbyists and politicians should stop pretending that shifting more responsibility for environmental programs from federal to state agencies will not tear big holes in the safety net that protects public health and our natural resources from dangerous pollutants,” the report argues.

It also concluded:

  • Forty states reduced the staffing levels at their environmental agencies over this decade. Twenty-one states cut their environmental workforce by at least 10 percent, and nine by 20 percent or more.
  • Overall, states eliminated 4,400 positions at agencies responsible for protecting the environment.

In many cases, the cuts were not the result of state budget crunches but deliberate policy choices. Several states slashed spending on their environmental agencies while their overall state budget grew significantly. For example, between 2008 and 2018, after adjusting for inflation Texas cut the funding its state Commission on Environmental Quality by 35 percent, while boosting overall state government spending by 41 percent. Researchers found similar trends in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.

Click here to view the report.

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