1. Update
  2. Environment & Energy

President’s Budget Puts Our Health, Communities and Future at Risk

By Milo Keller, March 20, 2019


President Donald Trump released the third budget proposal of his presidency on March 11. As anticipated, it would be a disaster for our environment.

The “Budget for a Better America” would cut Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding by 31 percent, Department of the Interior (DOI) funding by 14 percent, and Department of Energy (DOE) funding by 11 percent compared to last fiscal year’s levels.

The budget would slash grants supporting state and local air quality management by one third. It would decrease funding for the Atmospheric Protection Program, which supports climate-change related partnership programs, by almost 90 percent. Multiple programs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), including the coastal research-supporting Sea Grant, would be completely eliminated.

Conservation Programs

The Budget for a Better America makes one thing very clear: The President’s priorities are out of step with the American people’s. It would put our health, communities, and future at risk.

The President’s proposed budget would allocate only $30 million to the Great Lakes Initiative, a program that supports conservation of the Great Lakes, compared to the $300 million it received last fiscal year. Other large conservation programs, like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, recently permanently authorized in the bipartisan public lands package, are on the chopping block as well.

Rather than appropriating funds for important energy efficiency initiatives like Energy Star, the budget would force them to be funded by user fees. A tax credit encouraging electric vehicle purchase, an incentive that was used by 57,000 taxpayers in 2016, would be terminated.

International Climate Response

The Department of State, which funds critical international climate work, receives an overall proposed cut of 23 percent, which will likely put pressure on many of its climate and energy programs. The Global Environment Facility, which provides grants and mobilizes financing for environmental projects around the world, would not receive any additional funding in fiscal year 2020. Other crucial international accounts, like the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are not mentioned in the budget request at all.

Research

Critical research funding would also be cut. The National Science Foundation’s budget, which supplies roughly one quarter of US federal science funding, was reduced by 9 percent. The Advanced Research Program Administration-Energy (ARPA-E), which funds frontier energy innovation research that the private sector often views as too uncertain to invest in, would be eliminated entirely.

The Impact

President Trump’s proposal would be catastrophic for our ability to improve energy efficiency, conserve our natural habitat, and mitigate climate change, and it is far beyond the parameters of reasonable budget discussions. Many of these programs enjoy strong bipartisan support, particularly research programs like ARPA-E, which many conservatives view as an important tool for finding solutions to climate change that do not involve government regulation.

The Budget for a Better America makes one thing very clear: The President’s priorities are out of step with the American people’s. It would put our health, communities, and future at risk.

This budget request is only a proposal. Congress has the constitutional authority to authorize spending, and it is its duty to pass a budget that aligns with the priorities of the American people, not polluting corporate interests.

As more evidence of climate change’s devastating consequences becomes clear, so too does the Congressional mandate to fully fund programs to address climate change, promote clean energy, and respect the integrity of our science. We must send a strong message to our representatives to reject the President’s proposal and pass a bipartisan budget that will help solve these problems, before they get far worse

Milo Keller

  • Program Assistant, Sustainable Energy and Environment

Milo Keller served as the Program Assistant for Sustainable Energy and Environment for 2018-2019.