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The Environment Unprotected From Sequester

Posted on Mar 2, 2013
josef.stuefer (CC BY 2.0)

Thanks to the dreaded sequester cuts, the nation’s habitat will take a sizable hit as the development of clean energy is set back and 8,400 meat inspectors are furloughed. The oil industry, however, emerges as a victor as it gets to keep its billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies while the EPA sees its funding for monitoring and cleanup reduced, Mother Jones reports.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Mother Jones:

3. Food safety: The Food Safety and Inspection Service’s budget would be slashed by $51 million. This would result in a furlough of as much as 15 days for all employees, including 8,400 meat inspectors, as well as a loss of 2 billion pounds of meat, between 2.8 and 3.3 billion pounds of poultry, and over 200 million pounds of egg products. Meat shortages may also lead to price increases, leading to a domino effect on restaurants, grocers, and small businesses. There are also concerns that food safety “could be compromised by the illegal selling and distribution of uninspected meat, poultry, and egg products.” This wouldn’t be the first time there were public health concerns over shady meat industry.

4. Fracking regulation: There will likely be less oversight, says the Sierra Club’s Pierce. Specifically, there will be a reduction of baseline water quality monitoring networks, less money to study the effect of unconventional oil and gas extraction in the Appalachians, and not enough resources to determine how shale gas development impacts species such as brook trout and freshwater mussels.

Federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the DOI are currently developing rules and safeguards on fracking technology to ensure that drinking water is protected. “All of those efforts will be handicapped because the agency does not have the budget and personnel to carry out the critical work,” said Pierce.

5. Natural-disaster response: The cuts won’t increase the disasters themselves, but will definitely decrease our ability to fight and recover from them. Drought and climate change mean wildfires are on the rise, and the USDA warns that the agency “would complete as many as 200,000 fewer acres of hazardous fuel treatments, resulting in an increased risk to communities from wildfires.” The EPA cautions that there would be less research on how to prepare for disasters, leading to longer recovery times and higher costs.

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