Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Trump's Budget Cuts Target Climate Science and Environmental Programs

Trump has been at war with science and climate action from the beginning of his mandate. In addition to cuts to education and medicare Trump's proposed 2020 budget slashes funding to climate science and environmental programs.

Trump has made similar budget proposals in 2017 and 2018. The 2020 budget proposal includes cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of the Interior, NASA, and NOAA. This is but the latest installment of the Trump administration ongoing war with science.

Trump's proposed cuts to science funding, include a 13 percent cut to the National Science Foundation and a 2.3 percent cut for NASA's budget compared with the agency's 2019 funding. Trump has a track record of opposing scientific research. This is presumably because the facts expose the irrationality of his climate denial and his energy policy. He may also want to hide the economic benefits of climate action over inaction.  In a clear illustration of this administration's disdain for science, they tried to bury a government report on climate and then dismissed its findings. Trump's contempt for science may serve his disinformation agenda but it is harmful to the national interest and it invites catastrophe.


At NOAA, Trump's budget proposes to eliminate three environmental programs including Sea Grant. As part of environmental research on the coasts and in the Great Lakes, the Sea Grant program includes climate change research.


At NASA, the budget eliminates two planned Earth science missions (PACE and CLARREO) aimed at understanding climate systems. As explained on NASA's EOA Project Science Office website, understanding of impacts and feedbacks of the Earth system to climate are critical importance. This is exactly what the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission intends to do. It will make global ocean color measurements to provide extended data records on ocean ecology and global biogeochemistry (e.g., carbon cycle) along with polarimetry measurements to provide extended data records on clouds and aerosols. While PACE uses a satellite to understand ocean health and its influence on air quality and climate, the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO), studies energy from the sun reflected back by Earth. mission will monitor the pulse of the Earth to better understand climate change. CLARREO will produce highly accurate and trusted climate records that can be used to lay the groundwork for informed decisions on mitigation and adaptation policies that address the effects of climate change on society.

The Interior Department

Trump's budget would cut funding for the Interior Department's Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASCs) by almost half. CASCs respond to the effects of climate change on fish, wildlife, ecosystems, and the communities they support. CASCs helps tribes to adapt to climate change would also be slashed. Funding for Tribal Climate Resilience would be eliminated although support for fossil fuels remains. During his stint at the head of the Department of Interior Ryan Zinke systematically removed or undermined science. After Zinke was forced to resign in disgrace due to ethics violations he was replaced by David Bernhardt, another fossil fuel industry lobbyist who is responsible for revoking directives on integrating climate science and other devious techniques to undermine science in the department.


Not surprisingly Trump's biggest cuts are reserved for the EPA. The 31 percent, $2.8 billion proposed cut would end the EPA’s Global Change Research office which was responsible for the second volume of the Fourth National Climate Assessment which  embarrassed the administration when it was released late last year.  Ending this program would kill reports on climate threats for policymakers. The budget also seeks to eliminate environmental programs including radon-detection initiatives, programs that seek to improve water quality and community grants for lead-reduction projects.

This is the third year in a row that Trump has targeted the EPA for budget cuts. Very soon after Trump's inauguration in 2017 it became clear that Republicans were trying to kill the EPA outright and then Trump weighed in and it became clear that he was preparing to wage war against the agency.  The nomination of fossil fuel lobbyist Scott Pruitt to head the EPA confirmed this suspicion.

Andrew Wheeler replaced Pruitt after he resigned due to ethics violations. The new administrator can be expected to continue Pruitt's war on science. Wheeler has an anti-science track record that dates back decades. From 1995 to 2009, Wheeler was a staff member for climate denying Republican Senator James Inhofe and in 2010 he publicly attacked the UN's International Panel on Climate Change.

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