State environmental activists took to Scarborough Beach on Thursday to condemn President Donald Trump’s plan to slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 30 percent.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine staged the event to highlight the direct effects that it says Trump’s proposal would have on Maine: EPA grants to states for coastal water quality monitoring, for instance, would be eliminated, as would a grant program that aims to reduce runoff pollution from pesticides and fertilizers. Also gone is a program that funds work to stop leaks from underground storage tanks.
But perhaps the most compelling words came from Hunter Lachance, a Kennebunkport 9th-grader who has asthma.
“Asthma is no fun. It is scary when I cannot breathe and I need to miss school, and hang out indoors on bad air day,” he says.
The EPA, Lachance says, plays a vital role in regulating toxic emissions that can cause and trigger the condition. But he says Trump’s budget would cut EPA state grants for air quality planning and enforcement by a third.
“Maine has one of the highest rates of asthma in the nation. And our air is polluted by smokestacks and cars from other states, so we really depend on the federal government to protect us,” he says.
Lachance is one of more than a thousand Mainers who signed a letter to the state’s congressional delegation asking to keep the EPA’s budget at current levels.