While it’s far from a done deal, the 2018 White House budget tabled this week would slash funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by US$2.6 billion, or 31.4%, open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling, cut the U.S. Departments of Interior and Energy by 10.9 and 5.4%, and sell off half of the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
The massive cuts “would target the EPA’s regulatory efforts, climate change initiatives, research accounts, industrial clean-up measures, state grants, and region-specific environmental work,” The Hill reports. “Taken together, it would shutter 50 agency programs and eliminate 3,200 of the agency’s 15,000 jobs.”
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The Beltway daily notes that “Trump’s budget is only a proposal,” Congressional Democrats “have already howled about the size and scope of the White House’s proposed cuts, and some Republicans have dismissed the budget, as well.” But an array of critics, including some of the country’s leading climate and energy hawks, are already declaring battle stations over some of the more egregious cuts.
Trump’s budget blueprint in March “made clear that international climate finance—U.S. support for developing countries to tackle the causes and consequences of climate change—was in the crosshairs, and that was confirmed in the full budget request,” notes Joe Thwaites of the World Resources Institute. “The bottom line is clear: the White House is asking Congress to make draconian and senseless cuts to climate finance that will undermine U.S. economic, diplomatic, and security interests around the world.”
Thwaites notes that the budget brings U.S. bilateral development assistance to zero and eliminates funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which provides loans and guarantees to mobilize private investment in international development.
“OPIC is responsible for a significant proportion of U.S. overseas climate funding, committing around $1 billion a year for renewable energy projects,” Thwaites writes. And “because companies pay OPIC for its financial products, it operates at no net cost to taxpayers and has generated $2.1 billion for the U.S. Treasury since 2010. To cut a program that is helping reduce the deficit while supporting renewable energy defies logic.”
Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), says the budget “takes a meat cleaver to the largest job creator in the energy sector: energy efficiency. It seeks crippling cuts to federal programs that transform waste into wealth and help support 2.2 million energy efficiency jobs.”
The budget eliminates Energy Star and vehicle fuel efficiency programs, and “seeks to end all federal funds for home weatherization and impose a cut of approximately 70% to the energy efficiency programs at the Department of Energy,” Nadel adds. “These programs lower energy bills for households, businesses, and the federal government itself, all while creating domestic jobs.”