Trump Proposes Broad Range of Environmental, Energy and Health Cuts

Credit: NASA

If anyone had the slightest hope that Donald Trump might spare global warming research in his proposed spending plan, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney stuck a knife through it during a contentious press conference on Thursday.

“As to climate change, I think the President was fairly straightforward saying we’re not spending money on that anymore,” he said. “We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.”

The budget blueprint gave plenty of examples of the president’s hostility to climate research in particular and environmental policy in general. The proposed cuts include:

  • a 31 percent reduction in the budget for the Environmental Protection Agency, reducing spending from $7.3 billion to $5.7 billion;
  • elimination of the Global Climate Change Initiative;
  • an end to payments to the United Nations’ (UN) climate change programs through the elimination of U.S. funding for the Green Climate Fund and its two precursor Climate Investment Funds.
  • the discontinuation of funding for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan;
  • the cutting the EPA’s Office of Research and Development budget nearly in half from $488 million to approximately $250 million, a reduction of $233 million;
  • the elimination of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy;
  • the cancellation of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program;
  • the elimination of the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program;
  • a reduction of $900 million in the DOE’s Office of Science budget;
  • a reduction of $102 million in NASA’s Earth science program;
  • the cancellation of three NASA climate change orbital programs;
  • the shutting off of Earth facing instruments on the DSCOVR spacecraft, which is already in space;
  • the elimination of $250 million in NOAA grants and programs supporting coastal and marine management, research, and education including the Sea Grant program.

The administration gave a number of rationales for the reductions. In some cases such as the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program amd Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program, it said the work would be better left to the private sector. The administration said some programs would be better left to state and local authorities.

Trump has previously stated that he believed climate change was a plot by the Chinese government to shut down American heavy industry. He later claimed he was joking. One thing is clear: the president and Congressional Republicans do not believe it’s a serious threat to the world.

The cuts in research were not just limited to environment and energy. The Department of Health and Huiman Services budget would be cut from $84.1 billion to $69 billion, a reduction of $15.1 billion or 17.9 percent.

The National Institutes of Health wouled see more than a third of that reduction — $5.8 billion– with its budget reduced to $25.9 million.

“The Budget includes a major reorganization of NIH’s Institutes and Centers to help focus resources on the highest priority research and training activities, including: eliminating the Fogarty International Center; consolidating the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality within NIH; and other consolidations and structural changes across NIH organizations and activities,” the budget blueprint states.

American Geophysical Union (AGU) Executive Director and CEO Christine McEntee slammed the proposed cutbacks as shortsighted and dangerous in a statement issued on Thursday.

“President Trump’s proposed budget, if enacted, would be a step backward for scientific progress, jeopardize the U.S.’s role as a leader in innovation, and harm the American public. The cuts to federal agencies such as DOE, EPA, NOAA, NSF, USGS, and programs within NASA, will put the safety and wellbeing of millions of families and companies at risk,” McEntree said. “These agencies provide research and data that are critical in informing and shaping decisions that protect public health and safety, support national security, and facilitate economic stability and job growth in the US….

“Investment in Earth and space science has given us better satellite data for our military, more accurate forecasting that protects the public from natural hazards, and improved our understanding of the effects of a changing climate on agricultural, ecosystems, and human health,” she added.

“Without the critical data and information this research provides, who will farmers turn to when they need help managing their crops? Who will the Pentagon turn to when they need information to support effective troop movements? Who will families turn to when a hurricane or tornado threatens their lives and livelihoods?” McEntree said.