So far it looks like a sweeping activity freeze placed on the Environmental Protection Agency by the Trump Administration will have little impact locally.
The new directive bars the EPA from issue new grants or entering new contracts.
In some regions this could mean brownfield redevelopment projects could see funding delayed or eliminated, but City Manager Jason Molino said none of the Batavia Opportunity Area projects depend on federal funding, so the change in policy will have no impact on the BOA.
Molly S. Cassatt, managing director of the county's Soil and Water Conservation District, said there are no pending grants impacted by the order, but she isn't sure about the status of a recent grant application. The district joined seven other counties in the region, she said, on a grant application for a sediment and nutrient reduction project in the Genesee River Watershed. The eastern half of Genesee County, which includes Oatka and Black creeks, is part of that watershed.
If that grant is blocked, she said, there is still state money available to help with the project in those creeks.
County Manager Jay Gsell said he isn't away of any immediate impact on county government.
The Trump Administration has also ordered the EPA to cease all public communication, including the issuing of press releases, participation in social media and blogs and website updates.
We emailed the EPA to check the status of funding for cleanup of the superfund project in Le Roy, the Lehigh Train Derailment Site, which was seemingly neglected until 2012 when the Le Roy tic issue came up, and a staff member responded referring us to the Buffalo EPA representative. We called his office and he is out of the office for the day.
The USDA has received the same communications order.
We tried calling the local USDA office, located on Liberty Street, and we were referred to the public relations officer for the region, based in Syracuse. This would probably be standard procedure anyway, but the officer asked us to email our question about local news media communication. He's since responded that he will provide a response as soon as possible.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer issued the brief statement about the EPA's freeze on grants and contracts:
“EPA’s fundamental mission to protect clean air and clean water for public health and safety is being impeded by the unprecedented decision to freeze all grants and contracts. This decision could have damaging implications for communities across New York, from delaying testing for lead in schools to restricting efforts to keep drinking water clean to holding up much-needed funding to revitalize toxic brownfield sites. The Administration should reverse this damaging policy immediately,” Schumer said.