Friday, March 17, 2017

Trump's budget would gut funding for the environment, science, and public lands

For decades America has supported a plethora of vibrant programs and services that have benefited us all in uncountable ways. Through our tax dollars, we fund the scientific research that has vastly improved our quality of life and reduced our impact on our planet. We fund environmental protection that keeps our air and water clean, the ecosystems that sustain us healthy, and help fight the climate change that threatens our very existence. We fund our public lands - places everyone, regardless of personal wealth or social standing, has a stake in. They are a source of joy for hundreds of millions of Americans, and support a multi-billion dollar outdoor recreation economy.

 Today we're in danger of losing all this because of what Trump's budget would do to programs related to the environment. The budget cuts Trump has proposed would do so much damage to programs that improve every aspect of our society that it's difficult even to grasp the potential ramifications. Millions would suffer, many would die, and many decades of hard won progress would be lost. Not only the environment would suffer, but there would also be more funding for the arts, no more aid for the poor...... the list goes on. We must resist. We must stop Trump from implementing his devastating plans..

If he succeeded in implementing these budget cuts, where would all the billions of dollars of taxpayer money go?  Is there something so grand and wonderful in the works that it justifies the crippling of our nation? There is not. The money would go to the military - $52 Billion dollars would be sunk into a branch of the government that already eats up $600 billion per year - 53% of our taxes! The rest of the money that would otherwise go to help starving children or ensure clean water or preserve our cultural heritage would  also be sunk into such projects as the utterly useless border wall and the environmentally harmful Yukka Mountain Nuclear storage facility. The only people who would see actual tax cuts are the rich - those who least deserve it.

If anything, we should be implementing a budget that is the opposite of what Trump has proposed. The next largest military in the world (China) only spends $147 Billion per year - we could afford to cut our military budget by 2/3, and we'd still have the most well funded armed forces in the world by a ridiculous margin! The border wall is a useless endeavor, and would be devastating to the ecosystems along our southern border. The only things it would keep out of the country are various species of migrating wildlife. If we really wanted to stop illegal immigration, the vast fortune needed to build the wall would be far better spent on helping Mexico become a more desirable place to live so that those living there wouldn't even want to move North!

For a more complete look at the budget check out this excellent article by the Washington Post:

The following list contains some of the key cuts in areas that relate to the environment:

  • $250 Million would be cut from coastal research programs that ready communities for rising seas and worsening storms.
  • The $73 Million Sea Grant Program would be eliminated. This program works with 33 different universities to create and maintain a healthy coastal environment and economy. The programs of the Sea Grant network work together to help citizens understand, conserve, and better utilize America's Coastal, Ocean, and Great Lakes resources. 
  • $900 Million would be cut from the Office of Science, a component of the Department of Energy that is the leading federal agency supporting scientific research for energy and physical sciences.
  • The Energy Star, Weatherization Assistance Program, ARPA-E, Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, and Title 17 Loan guarantees would be eliminated.
  • Funding for 49 National Historic sites would be eliminated
  • Land acquisition funds would be cut by $120 Million
  • Climate Change Prevention Programs, including pledged payments to United Nations climate change programs would be eliminated.
  • 50 programs and 3200 jobs would be eliminated from the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Funding for international climate change programs would be discontinued.
  • Funding for the Office of Research and Development would be cut in half. This is the scientific research arm of the EPA, and is vital to the agency's effective operation.
  • Funding for the Superfund Cleanup Program and the Office of Enforcement and Compliance would be cut.
  • $102 Million of funding for Earth Science would be cut, resulting in the termination of four missions aimed at understanding climate change. 
The reason for these cuts is made clear by the deep connections between the Trump administration and the fossil fuel industry. This proposed budget is almost entirely devoid of logic, common sense, responsible leadership, or compassion. It is a cold and irrational attempt to siphon money from those who can least afford it and from vital programs and services to bolster a toxic political agenda and dump truckloads of cash into the pockets of the morale-less individuals and corporations pulling the strings. 

This budget must not be approved. It is vital that we all contact our representatives in the House and Senate and let them know that we do not support this budget and such cuts to environmental protection, public lands, and scientific research. Also let them know that you disagree with the other terrible cuts that this budget would make to arts, assistance for the poor, etc. We must stand together and resist the corruption that has taken root at the highest levels of our government.