The proposed budget of US President Donald Trump would harm a critical Environmental Protection Agency test lab in Ann Arbor, Michigan, according to E&E News.
Dubbed the “National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Lab,” or “NVFEL,” the Ann Arbor facility has a staff of 436 scientists and engineers whose job entails testing thousands of new engines in the United States each year to ensure that the emission of harmful pollutants from their operation are within guidelines, and certifying the results of some companies’ internal testing. Under Donald Trump’s budget proposal, the NVFEL would see its funding cut by 99 percent, as part of a broader proposal to cut the EPA’s total budget by 31 percent.
Granted, President Trump’s budget proposal amounts to little more than a “wish list,” but critics note that it at least indicates where his priorities lie. Few seem willing to stand up for the laboratory, although its cause has found a friend in Michigan Representative Debbie Dingell (D) who, at a rally outside the facility Tuesday, called it “a national treasure in Ann Arbor.”
“We will not let them destroy it,” she said.
Dingell was the only lawmaker to protest President Trump’s proposal to defund the lab in a letter dated April 19th. She told E&E News that she’s been speaking with automakers and fellow lawmakers to try and apply pressure to the President’s administration.
Margo Oge, former Director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality from 1994 to 2012, said that the lab “has done more to reduce emissions and air pollution than any other facility in the country.” The NVFEL targets not only greenhouse gas emissions, but other pollutants resulting from internal combustion engines, as well.
“I can’t think of a group that doesn’t stand to benefit from it, aside from the oil industry.”
So far, automakers have remained tight-lipped about the prospect of slashing funding for the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Lab, likely because President Trump has also proposed doubling the companies’ annual fees from $20 million to offset most of the reduction in funding. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has said only that it opposes delays in obtaining certification for new vehicles.
The lab is fully funded through the end of 2017, E&E says, and any attempts to defund it could take years as manufacturers and some legislators fight for its continued funding. This leaves the future of the facility and 188 of its employees uncertain.