A 31.4% cut to the Environmental Protection Agency, an end to international climate funding, and massive reductions in climate research are major elements of the 2018 budget released yesterday by the Trump White House.
The budget calls for US$54 billion in cuts across the U.S. government, designed to free up funds for an increase in Pentagon spending, with the EPA taking the biggest single hit.
Asked about climate change in a news conference to announce the budget, Office of Management and Budget Director Michael Mulvaney responded: “We’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money.”
The EPA is slated to lose 3,200 of its 15,000 employees.
Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp called the budget “reckless” and the EPA cut “unconscionable”, noting that the plan “would put the health and safety of all Americans at risk, and hobble our efforts to build a vibrant clean energy economy.” He added: “This is an all-out assault on the health of our planet and the health and safety of the American people. President Trump’s budget proposal is an overzealous attempt to undermine America’s most basic environmental protections, with no concern about the serious harm it will cause to our families and communities.”
“Trump’s budget proposal to eviscerate the EPA is a direct assault on our future,” agreed NRDC Legislative Director Scott Slesinger. “It would return us to smog-choked cities, oil-soaked rivers, and toxic drinking water, threatening our health from every quarter. No American wants that. This ridiculous proposal deserves to be, and will be, dead on arrival in Congress.”
The budget takes $2.6 billion out of the EPA budget, including $100 million for Clean Power Plan implementation and international climate programs and partnerships, and $50 million for EnergyStar, a massively effective, 25-year-old program that saves consumers an estimated $24 to $34 billion per year by helping them choose more energy-efficient appliances.
“The federal budget outline released by the Trump administration today takes a meat cleaver to energy efficiency programs, cutting both muscle and bone. If enacted, these cuts would raise Americans’ energy bills and kill jobs,” said Steve Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
“These programs produce a huge windfall for all Americans—saving us billions of dollars in energy bills, making businesses more competitive, reducing air pollution, and creating millions of U.S. jobs,” Nadel added. “Wasting energy and killing jobs are not the change Americans were seeking in the last election.”
Beyond the EPA cuts, InsideClimate News reports that the U.S. Department of Energy will lose its $291-million Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) see their pioneering climate research efforts largely abandoned, with NASA funds refocused on deep space exploration and supersonic commercial aviation research.
ICN’s summary also enumerates climate-related cuts to the Departments of State, Interior, and Agriculture, but notes that Thursday’s release “is only the first step in the process. Congress will weigh in and oppose the loss of popular programs and the plan’s failure to address the deficit. To pass cuts to discretionary programs like those at EPA would require some Democratic support to reach 60 votes in the Senate, which is unlikely.”
However, “the White House is likely to find significant support among Republicans, particularly for cutting the EPA.” But within hours of Mulvaney’s news conference, the Washington Post was reporting widespread opposition to the budget on the part of Congressional Republicans.
“While we have a responsibility to reduce our federal deficit, I am disappointed that many of the reductions and eliminations proposed in the president’s skinny budget are draconian, careless, and counterproductive,” said House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY). “We will certainly review this budget proposal, but Congress ultimately has the power of the purse.”
“I’ve never seen a president’s budget proposal not revised substantially,” added Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA). “As a member of the Budget Committee, I’ll carefully scrutinize and assess priorities as the president has with his proposal.”
New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush tweeted a devastating comment from a senior Republican leadership aide on Capitol Hill: “It’s a joke…we’ve learned not to listen to anything he says or does. We’re on our own.”