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Trump's 'Environmentally Disastrous' Budget Would Cripple EPA
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget will still be slashed by nearly a third, from $8.2 billion to $5.65 billion, under President Trump's fiscal 2018 budget proposal released Tuesday.
The EPA, which has long been targeted by the Trump administration, is the hardest hit federal agency under the new plan. Opponents say it "endangers Americans" and cripples an institution charged with protecting their health and safety.
As detailed by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, notable components of the anticipated budget include a 30 percent cut in federal grants to state and local air pollution control agencies; a 39 percent cut in EPA's Science and Technology budget; a 35 percent cut in EPA's Environmental Program and Management budget (the agency's overall operating budget); and the elimination of funding several regional programs, including restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes and Puget Sound.
The Washington Post noted that "dozens of other programs also would be zeroed out entirely, including funding for radon detection, lead risk reduction, projects along the U.S.-Mexico border and environmental justice initiatives." Additionally, less money will be allocated to enforcement of environmental crimes and climate change research.
Significantly, the budget proposes deep cuts to the EPA's Superfund program despite EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt previously saying he does not support cutting the program and listing it as one of his priorities.
The proposed budget was widely criticized by environmental groups.
"President Trump's proposed budget is economically irresponsible and environmentally disastrous," Ken Berlin, president and CEO of The Climate Reality Project, said. "The budget claims to consider 'America First,' but in fact does the opposite. It endangers Americans by eviscerating the Environmental Protection Agency, crippling the institution charged with protecting their health and safety."
Compared to the EPA, the Interior Department budget faces a smaller shave with a 11 percent cut. However, the proposal also includes measures to boost federal revenue from the oil and gas industry, most notably the sale of federal drilling leases in the 19-million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
350.org policy director Jason Kowalski rebuked the White House's budget plan for prioritizing the interests of the fossil fuel industry.
"This latest budget starves the Environmental Protection Agency while stuffing the faces of fossil fuel billionaires," he said. "The American people overwhelmingly support government investments in renewable energy and environmental protections, while opposing the new coal, oil and gas extraction this budget aims to open up.
Trump's overall budget plan is seemingly hobbling federal agencies focusing on science, conservation and innovation. For instance, the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy seeing a potential 70 percent drop.
"We were disappointed to see the administration's proposal to slash programs that promote American-made clean energy." Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said.
"Clean energy research programs have been priorities of both Republican and Democratic administrations and Congresses and the investments have paid off many times over," Hopper added. "We look forward to working with Congress as it drafts a budget that supports important clean energy programs that create American jobs, advance innovation and stimulate billions of dollars in private investment."
Furthermore, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, the Trump budget cuts the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund by $34 million, a 64 percent reduction. The fund allows state and federal partners to recover species listed under the Endangered Species Act. The budget also reduces funding for foreign endangered species like elephants, rhinoceros and tigers by 19 percent, and reduces the funding for the listing program by 17 percent, even though 500 plants and animals are still waiting for consideration for protection.
"The Endangered Species Act is the world's foremost law for saving species, but Trump wants to gut funding to recover imperiled wildlife from the brink of extinction," said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "Trump squanders tens of millions in taxpayer dollars flying down to Mar-a-Lago to play golf every weekend, yet spending a similar amount to protect and recover our most endangered species is simply too much."
Meanwhile, the budget proposes an additional $1.6 billion to build 80 new miles of a wall along the southern border. According to a Center for Biological Diversity study, Trump's wall would threaten at least 93 endangered and threatened species, including jaguars, ocelots and Mexican gray wolves.
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By Tracy L. Barnett
Sources reviewed this article for accuracy.
For Sicangu Lakota water protector Cheryl Angel, Standing Rock helped her define what she stands against: an economy rooted in extraction of resources and exploitation of people and planet. It wasn't until she'd had some distance that the vision of what she stands for came into focus.
Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.
The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.
"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro's government intends to use the Brazilian president's hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.