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Climate Continues to Suffer by Severe Environmental Protection Budget Cuts

The fiscal 2021 federal budget proposal totaled to 138 pages and did not include the word “climate” once. Although the proposal requests $4.8 trillion dollars for government spending, a slight increase from the previous year, the agencies responsible for addressing climate change received drastic cuts. The Trump administration has been working towards defunding research towards air quality and energy efficiency, land conservation, and many environmental protection programs.

The 27% reduction of funding the Environmental Protection Service may jeopardize the health and safety of Americans. The EPA enforces pollution-control standards to ensure that Americans have clean air, water and land. The EPA’s funding stands at $8 billion (about 2% of the federal budget) and would drop to $6.8 billion. The budget proposal reduces the amount of the EPA’s spending used towards air quality control by more than half – from $813 million down to $437 million. The United States currently stands as the second largest carbon emitter, yet the funding used to reduce our footprint could reach the lowest it has been in forty years. Research is one crucial aspect in the fight against climate change. The efforts the EPA puts forth to reduce environmental risks are dependent on scientific research, and without appropriate funding, policies cannot be properly enforced. The proposed budget also slashes research and development funding by half, and the research regarding air and energy control would stand to lose two-thirds of its funding. 

The EPA cannot protect the environment on their own, so nearly half of their yearly budget goes to non-profit organizations, local and state governments, and other environmental programs that conduct scientific research and cleanups. The proposed budget eliminates funding climate change partnership programs because the administration considers them outside the “core” of the EPA’s mission. NASA’s Climate Absolute and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) is also one of the programs the budget proposes to eliminate. CLARREO monitors the pulse of the Earth to understand climate change, and they have big projects ahead. In 2016, CLARREO received authorization to create a pathfinder that measures the reflectance of solar radiation to assess the contributions of climate-change variables. The pathfinder would revolutionize climate records by guaranteeing accurate long-term results that would provide the groundwork for climate change policies. Eliminating funding for CLARREO would not only halt the pathfinder’s predicted launch in 2023, but ultimately decelerate potential climate change reduction policies.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy within the US Department of Energy has set milestones to decrease energy usage by 25-50% between 2020-2030 and integrate clean energy resources. Assessments have shown that a taxpayer investment of $12 billion into the department will yield an estimated $230 billion net economic benefit to the United States. Trump has worked relentlessly to grow the economy. The DOE Advanced Research needed in order to accomplish these milestones would ultimately support Trump’s economic objective, however he proposed to cut their budget by 173%. Not only would this cut completely eliminate the $425 million agency, but it would also force the DOE to return $311 million dollars to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy strives to provide renewable energy to American homes, which 11% of the current military budget could accomplish. This percentage amounts to $80 billion and would produce enough wind and solar electricity to power 127.59 million households. The administration continues to increase the national security budget which may only instigate more military threats, however, the climate crisis is becoming all the more threatening and the spending plummets.

Trump has prioritized job growth and production throughout his administration and campaigning, yet the EPA proposed budget would cut their workforce by 11%. Rather, the budget devotes $182 million to hire more Border Control agents and other related staff positions. In relation, an extra $2 billion will fund building the border wall. The organizations and research development agencies are not nearly as costly as the allocation of military resources or border debacle. The EPA, DOE, NASA, and the handful of other programs that received tremendous budget cuts cannot be undervalued. As Senator José Javier Rodríguez of Florida’s 37th District said, “climate is not an issue that is separate from our economy, from public health, from every other issue that we deal with,” and we face an even greater danger if Congress does not take more initiative.

It is unlikely that Congress will accept the proposed budget because of other cuts that risk the wellbeing of citizens, such as health reform. The increased budget will also increase the U.S. national deficit, which Trump sought to bring down to $456 billion by 2021. It is now double that. It is imperative that the fiscal 2021 federal budget allocate money towards the services that aim to protect the environment and human safety. Using the budget in order to grow the economy and US national security are not essentials in the current climate, and is not a sustainable use of money. America cannot truly prosper less we work towards saving the ground we walk on and the air we breathe, and the first step is funding.

Sources:

About the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. (n.d.). Retrieved from Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website: https://www.energy.gov/eere/about-office-energy-efficiency-and-renewable-energy

Chemnick, J., & Frank, T. (2020, February 11). Climate Change Once Again Left Out of Trump’s Federal Budget. Retrieved from Scientific American website: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-change-once-again-left-out-of-trumps-federal-budget/

Deep EPA cuts put public health at risk. (n.d.). Retrieved from Environmental Defense Fund website: https://www.edf.org/deep-epa-cuts-put-public-health-risk

Florida State Legislators, Climate Action Leaders Slammed Trump for Ignoring Florida’s Climate Crisis in Proposed 2021 Budget. (2020, February 13). Retrieved from FloridaDems website: https://www.floridadems.org/news/florida-state-legislators-climate-action-leaders-slammed-trump-for-ignoring-floridas-climate-crisis-in-proposed-2021-budget-2

Helmore, E. (2020, February 10). Trump submits $4.8tn budget proposal despite no chance of it passing. Retrieved from The Guardian website: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/10/trump-budget-plan-2021-congress

Malakoff, D., & Mervis, J. (2020, February 10). Trump’s 2021 budget drowns science agencies in redink, again. Retrieved from Science Magazine website: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/02/trump-s-2021-budget-drowns-science-agencies-red-ink-again

Platt, J. R. (2020, February 12). Trump’s Budget Plan: A Push for Even Greater Environmental Regression. Retrieved from EcoWatch website: https://www.ecowatch.com/trump-budget-proposal-environment-2645124170.html?rebelltitem=2#rebelltitem2

Quick Facts: Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Pathfinder. (n.d.). Retrieved from Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics website: http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/missions-projects/quick-facts-clarreo/

Siddique, A. (2019, September 20). 11% of the Military Budget Could Fund Enough Renewable Energy for Every Home in the US. Retrieved from National Priorities Project website: https://www.nationalpriorities.org/blog/2019/09/20/Climate Continues to Suffer by Severe Environmental Protection Budget Cuts11-percent-military-budget-renewable-energy-every-home/

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