Possible EPA defunding worries BECQ, MINA

The Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality as well as the Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance have expressed concerns regarding the possible abolition of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as previously stated by President Donald J. Trump.

EPA has been providing invaluable funding for government agencies across the nation and the CNMI is no stranger to EPA-funded grants.

BECQ administrator Frank Rabauliman told Saipan Tribune that BECQ receives grants from several grantors, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Office of Insular Affairs, and the EPA.

According to Rabauliman, BECQ receives about $2.1 million in grants a year.

“With these funds, we are available to implement the Clean Water Act and regulate pesticides, solid waste, septic systems, and a lot of different programs that EPA has,” he said.

“If that funding is either reduced or seized, we would have to look at reducing the number of employees [BECQ] has, depending on the amount of money we end up getting, if any,” he added.

Rabauliman said defunding the EPA would have a tremendous impact on public health as well as the environment.

“[BECQ], through EPA funds, do daily sampling of our beaches. We routinely let the people know if there is contamination or not,” he said.

Rabauliman said if there is no money to pay for laboratory processing, sample collecting, and the sample analyzing, then the people of the CNMI could very well be trapped within their own beaches, not knowing when it is safe to take a swim or not.

“Although small, I like to believe these are very important to protect public health,” said Rabauliman.

MINA executive director Becky Furey shared the same concerns.

“MINA relies on the support of our local partners such as BECQ as well as federal partners to do our work. BECQ’s work is critical to maintaining the marine and terrestrial environments of the CNMI that our communities rely on everyday,” said Furey in an email.

“Although I am not familiar with the specific challenges in respect to the new administration’s impacts to our environmental regulations, anything that might jeopardize BECQ’s ability to do their work is certainly a cause for concern and makes the role community members play in taking care of our islands that much more important,” said Furey.

The EPA provides over $4 billion in funding for grants and assistance projects and agreements to both government and non-government agencies across the nation and its territories.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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