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Trump budget cuts climate science and action

The new US budget plans to slash the EPA budget by 30%, a disaster for environmental protection

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Damage from Hurricane Matthew last year. Cutting help for people and communities struggling with climate change impacts is just one area where the budget is looking to save money (NOAA)

President Trump famously derided climate change as a “hoax,” and his America First budget blueprint that was released last week would make climate denial our national policy. The new administration is not hiding its intentions.

Earlier this month, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt would not agree that carbon dioxide is the primary cause of global warming. Furthermore, Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney declared: “as to climate change...we’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money.”

If the President’s budget became law, the federal government would stop virtually all domestic and international efforts to curb carbon pollution, cease most climate science and research, halt efforts to develop energy efficient and renewable energy technologies, and quit helping communities prepare for and recover from storms, floods, droughts, and other climate change impacts.

This is a “Polluter First” budget, not an “America First” budget.

Trump’s proposed climate cuts are reckless and short-sighted. As in so many other ways, Trump’s budget betrays millions of Americans, including the president’s supporters. Congress must reject it.

Eliminating efforts to curb carbon pollution

The budget proposes to slash the overall 
EPA budget by 31%, the deepest cut of any major agency. It would eliminate virtually all funding for the EPA’s critical climate work. Specifically, the budget blueprint would cut US$100 million by “discontinu[ing] funding for the Clean Power Plan, international climate change programs, climate change research and partnership programs, and related efforts.”

The budget would also decimate the State Department’s climate activities, reneging on our international climate commitments. It would “eliminate U.S. funding related to the Green Climate Fund” that helps developing countries adopt cleaner energy sources to reduce their growing carbon pollution and cope with climate impacts. The proposal also guts support for the Climate Investment Funds established in 2008 with bipartisan support under President George W Bush. Under this budget, America would abandon its leadership position in the global clean energy race.

Slashing climate science and research

In Senate testimony, administrator Pruitt and other cabinet nominees parried climate questions by claiming the science is still uncertain. That would suggest the need for continuing and deepening scientific research into the causes and effects of climate change.

But the President’s budget would slash funding for nearly all such research across the government.

The budget would cut $102 million from the National Aeronautic and Space Administration’s (NASA) budget by eliminating the agency’s “earth-centric” focus and “terminat[ing] four Earth science missions”—the PACE mission, which monitors climate change and oceans; the OCO-3 programme, which monitors atmospheric carbon levels; the CLARREO Pathfinder mission, which measures atmospheric heat; and the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite’s earth-viewing instruments that monitor weather patterns and ozone levels. The stated rationale is that NASA should only look outward and give up its mission to understand our home planet.

The budget also proposes to cut significant funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellite data division, which supports the weather forecasters we rely on to track hurricane landfalls, tornadoes, and severe storms, and provide notice of threats like droughts and wildfires.

The proposed budget makes major cuts to the 
Department of Energy’s (DOE) research programmes. It would eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which energy secretary Rick Perry singled out for praise in his confirmation hearing. Overall, excluding nuclear weapons programmes, the DOE budget would be cut by almost 18%, and the DOE’s applied research programmes would be slashed by 45%.

Trump’s budget proposal would hack away nearly half the funding for the EPA’s Office of Research and Development, likely zeroing out the agency’s contribution to the US Global Climate Research Program, the government-wide climate science programme recently highly praised by the National Academy of Sciences.

Cuts to the EPA’s science budget will target grants like the competitive Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program. Grants through this programme go to institutions across the country to expand the EPA’s scientific capacity, and include projects to protect our air and water from extreme events. As an example, Oregon State University is trying to better predict sewage overflows during heavy rains, which are becoming more common as the climate changes. This is a problem facing more than 700 American cities.

Halting assistance

The budget proposes deep cuts in assistance to people and communities struggling with the impacts of climate change. The budget would eliminate a wide array of disaster preparedness and recovery programmes, from 
NOAA programmes that help coastal communities prepare for sea level rise to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s programme that helps storm-proof schools, hospitals, and police stations.

Among the climate-related EPA projects on the chopping block is the U.S. Mexico-Border Program, a bilateral partnership to improve the health, safety, and disaster preparedness of border communities like Douglas, Arizona and Laredo, Texas. The Border Program has supported childhood health efforts like the project in Imperial Valley, California that gives low-income parents guidance on managing their children’s asthma. A border wall won’t protect American kids from air and water pollution and climate change impacts.

The Department of Interior and the Forest Service would also see their conservation programmes nearly eliminated. These are critical to ensure that our nation’s natural heritage and wildlife can adapt to and survive the ongoing impacts of climate change.

Gutting clean energy

Trump’s budget favours dirty energy over energy efficiency and renewables, to the detriment of American consumers. The budget would eliminate the EPA’s and DOE’s popular and successful 
ENERGY STAR voluntary efficiency labelling programmes that turns a US$50 million annual investment into US$30+ billion worth of annual customer utility bill savings.

Energy efficiency programmes under threat at the DOE include the Weatherization Assistance Program (which supports 8,500 jobs and saves US$340 million in energy costs in a typical year) and the Appliance and Equipment Standards Program (which saves a typical household US$500 a year in utility bills).

Meanwhile, the Interior Department would unleash more dirty energy projects and “provide industry access” to our public lands and offshore waters.

Americans didn’t vote for dirty air, unsafe water, or an unstable climate. This climate denial budget proposal ignores the will of the public, putting us all at risk. Congress must reject this budget and put the health and safety of Americans first when it writes appropriations bills later this year.



This post was reprinted with permission from the Natural Resources Defense Council and originally appeared on NRDC.org

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