Trump’s 2020 Budget Would Cut EPA Funding by 31%
EcoWatch has already reported on its biggest ask — $8.6 billion in funding for a border wall that would threaten borderland wildlife and communities — but the budget has been equally criticized for what it would cut, including a 31 percent decrease in funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a nine to 14 percent decrease for the Department of the Interior (DOI).
#TrumpBudget proposes large cuts across a broad swath of public services. While detailed budget figures are just… https://t.co/NqT1j6WyTE— Center on Budget (@Center on Budget)1552331264.0
"In the face of a nationwide drinking water contamination crisis, a broken chemical safety net, and devastating hurricanes and wildfires, a rational and concerned president would seek more funding to protect Americans' health, keep our environment clean, and combat the threat of catastrophic climate change," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement about the budget.
Here are some of the programs the president would like to ax.
1. Endangered Species Funding: The budget for adding new species to the endangered species list would be cut by about 50 percent, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) said, while funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service overall would fall by 16 percent compared to 2019 levels.
2. The Land and Water Conservation Fund: The popular Land and Water Conservation Fund uses money from offshore oil and gas drilling to create national parks, wildlife refuges and protected areas. It was re-authorized in a bipartisan public lands bill that Trump is expected to sign, yet his budget would reduce its funds by 95 percent, the Huffington Post reported.
3. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: Among the many potential EPA cuts, the Trump administration wants to massively reduce funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which works to restore wetlands and improve water quality. The budget wants to cut $270 million of $300 million in funding, but the Detroit Free Press notes this plan is unlikely to pass Congress because it is popular with both Republicans and Democrats representing Midwestern states. Cuts proposed to the program over the last two years were also voted down.
4. Climate Change Prevention and Research: Many plans to study or deal with climate change would see cuts, Pacific Standard reported. Those include a 90 percent funding decrease for the EPA's Atmospheric Protection Program, which reports on greenhouse gasses, and a 70 percent funding decrease for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.This isn't the first time that Trump has proposed massive cuts to the EPA. His 2018 budget sought to cut its funding 31 percent and his 2019 budget aimed to slash it 23 percent. The Hill noted that Congress had declined to pass steep cuts to the EPA in previous years, and was even less likely to do so now that Democrats control the House. However, critics agreed that the budget reflected the administration's priorities.
BREAKING: We respond to the Trump administration’s 2019 budget proposal which contains an unprecedented $2 billion… https://t.co/hkGzsU98Mu— Center for Bio Div (@Center for Bio Div)1552332001.0
"This environmentally devastating proposal shows Trump's government is composed only of special interests, run by special interests, for the benefit of special interests," CBD Government Affairs Director Brett Hartl said.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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