Donald Trump’s spending plans represent an "all-out assault on clean air and clean water", a former head of the Environmental Protection Agency has warned.
Gina McCarthy, who was the EPA’s administrator under Barack Obama, told Inside Climate News that the proposals – still to be approved by Congress – were worse than they first appeared.
Under the President’s plan, the EPA’s budget would be cut by 31 per cent and some 3,200 staff would lose their jobs.
Two other leading EPA officials, another ex-administrator, Carol Browner, and Mustafa Ali, who quit as EPA advisor for environmental justice after Mr Trump’s election, also voiced concern about the effect of the swingeing cuts.
Ms McCarthy told the website: “Literally and figuratively this budget is a scorched-earth budget.
“It represents really an all-out assault on clean air and clean water and our ability to have safe homes, schools and places to work.
“This budget is even more challenging than it looks at first glance.”
The total proposed budget includes $2.3bn (about £1.85bn) which is actually given to individual states, rather than the EPA itself.
“When you take that out of the picture, the rest of the [EPA] budget is going to be cut from $6bn to $3.4bn. That's actually a 43 per cent cut in the ability to implement all of the clean water and clear air and clean land programmes,” Ms McCarthy said.
“Not to mention our ability to address the greatest environmental challenge of our time which is climate change.”
Ms Browner, who led the EPA from 1993 to 2001, said Republicans in Congress had shut the agency down several times by refusing to fund it during her time in office.
“What the Republican Congress discovered then is that the American people like their clean air. They like their clean water. They want the environmental cops on the beat,” she said.
Ms Browner said Mr Trump’s proposed budget “puts polluters first”.
Mr Ali said the plan “sends a direct signal that it's taking away the science that our most vulnerable communities have been asking for, to be able to validate the impacts of what has been happening inside of their communities”.
“It takes away those enforcement actions that help us make sure that those checks and balances between communities and those businesses and industries that may not necessarily be good players,” he added.