Water, air quality among potential impacts from state budget cut - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Water, air quality among potential impacts from state budget cuts

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Last week, we told you the Department of Environmental Quality was forced to cut a critical program in the fight against meth contamination... this, as a result of routine budget cuts. Today, the DEQ was forced to submit an additional ten percent budget cut in response to a request from Governor Steve Bullock. The Governor says he made that request due to a number of factors, including unforeseen costs for Montana's severe drought and wildfire season, and low market prices for oil, coal and agriculture products. 

KFBB decided to take a closer look into the budget cuts at the DEQ. The numbers over the next ttwo years are as follows: 

-Reduce contracted services in water quality by $229, 934. This could mean it will become more difficult for communities to meet water quality standards. 

-One enforcement division administrator position will be cut, resulting in $241, 000 saved. 
    
-State recycling program will be cut, and instead the program will be funded through solid waste fees. While this could mean an increase in those fees, it will save $140, 000 over two years. 

-The largest proposed cut includes reducing one FTE in Opencut min permitting, eliminating wo positions in the Air, Energy & Mining Division, and reducing county air quality grants. In all, these cuts will total $428, 001. It could result in impacts on the mine permitting and management process. But even closer to home, a reduction in air quality grants will mean less road dust control, open burning control, ambient monitoring, and state pollution control plan support. Cascade and Lewis and Clark Counties will be directly affected.

It's worth noting: despite the many changes here, the DEQ is arguably one of the least-impacted agencies to submit proposed budget cuts. To see all the proposed cuts by agency, visit here

The next steps include a series of reviews by several different committees, and the Governor's final review on Sept. 26th. 

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