Trump's Budget Hacks Climate Programs
Cuts to Medicare and Medicaid are getting most of the attention, but President Trump's new budget proposal also features nearly across-the-board cuts to programs meant to combat and mitigate the effects of climate change.
The most obvious top-line cuts are at the Environmental Protection Agency, where the White House wants to lop more than a quarter of the budget, for some $2.4 billion.
White House says that would include the elimination of nearly 50 different programs costing $600 million, such as beach pollution monitoring. The budget proposal says such items are "wasteful programs that are outside of EPA’s core mission or duplicative of other efforts."
Other cuts specifically aimed at environmental concerns, particularly those that deal with mitigation and preparedness include ending NOAA’s Climate Competitive Research program, cutting the Army Corps of Engineers by $1.7 billion -- about 22 percent; ending the popular Energy Star program; eliminating the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, the Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program, the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program, the Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Program; and slashing the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program by $2.1 billion.
Trump also targets disaster response, slating $535 million in cuts for the "unnecessary Federal spending for Federal Emergency Management Agency" grants and training programs. The White House says they "have failed to demonstrate results, supplant State and local government responsibilities."
Gina McCarthy, who ran the EPA in the Obama administration and now leads the Natural Resources Defense Council, ripped the cuts.
“Congress should toss this Trump budget into the dustbin of history like they've done with the other ones," McCarthy said in a statement,"referring to the fact that Congress has not passed his budgets, including when the GOP was in charge.
"This president is putting our families and communities at risk by taking direct aim at the environment, public health and energy innovation," McCarthy said.
Food and Water Action's executive director, Wenonah Hauter, called the proposed budget "an arrogant combination of irresponsible safety net cuts and negligence."
"EPA and USDA’s budgets have been insufficient for decades, and now Trump envisions minimal or diminished spending for both in the face of a water, food, and climate crisis," Hauter said, also referring to an eight percent cut to the Agriculture Department.
There are also other cuts that would seem to fly in the face of addressing climate change. One notable one is slashing more than half the grants for Amtrak's busy Northeast corridor.
At the same time, the budget boosts highway spending by about eight percent and eliminates a set-aside for the Transportation Alternatives program, which the White House said would provide "additional flexibility to use the resources within the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program to support projects that rehabilitate or expand highways."