How Will the Sequester Affect Kentucky’s Environment?

The across-the-board federal cuts known as the sequester went into effect Friday and will remain until Congress and President Obama can reach a deal on the budget. And those cuts could have a significant effect on environmental enforcement in Kentucky.

According to the White House, Kentucky stands to lose $2.1 million in funding for water and air quality if lawmakers don’t reach a budget deal and the sequester stands. There’s another $744,000 cut estimated for fish and wildlife protection. A spokesman for the Energy and Environment Cabinet says he’s not sure how accurate that $2.1 million figure is, and once the cabinet has final numbers it will plan accordingly.

But Natural Resources Defense Council Director of Government Affairs David Goldston says he predicts the environment will suffer. Goldston says the cuts could delay projects, or testing could be eliminated which will make it harder for regulators to enforce the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

“While technically the law would still be enforced and on the books and there would certainly be some kinds of enforcement done, all these things would make it much more difficult to take the actual steps needed to ensure that A, there aren’t problems, and B, the problems that aren’t there are getting addressed,” he said.

If the cuts last for a long time, Goldston says the effects will be more noticeable.

“It’s mattered that we’ve had these programs,” he said. “Water is cleaner, air is cleaner, we know more about where the sources of dirty water and air are. We’ve got cleaner cars. Wind energy and solar energy have gotten cheaper and have been put in place in many more areas. Those are all because of federal programs that now will be cut.”

National Parks will also take a hit, though there’s no information about how specific parks will be affected.

Erica Peterson

Erica Peterson reports on energy and the environment for WFPL.

@ericampeterson

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