Trump 2021 Proposed Budget Takes Aim at the Environment

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Even after years of eviscerating research and environmental protection, Trump has not yet had enough. His 2021 budget proposes cutting EPA's budget by one-quarter, all but eliminating the Land and Water Conservation Fund, reducing funds from an already back-logged SuperFund program, and hacking away at the Endangered Species Act. Just say no.

President Trump’s 2021 budget proposal came out and it is bad for the environment. One of the biggest losers is the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump’s budget requests a 24 percent decrease for the federal agency that protects the environment.

Trump’s budget calls for nearly 50 programs to be eliminated that it deems “wasteful” and “outside of EPA’s core mission or duplicative of other efforts.” That would include EPA’s Beaches Program funds for state-run monitoring programs because they “are now established and can continue to be implemented at the local level.”

The Superfund program, which cleans up hazardous waste sites, would also be slashed by 10 percent. The program has a big backlog of sites waiting to be cleaned up. There is currently the largest number in 15 years of unfunded projects at hazardous waste sites. The EPA lacked funding to start work on 34 Superfund sites, as of December 2019.

Research and development funding at the EPA would be cut almost in half, lowering funding from $500 million to $281 million. The administration wrote in a budget summary that “research grants to non-federal entities such as universities, are not required to meet EPA’s statutory obligations and therefore would not be funded.” The EPA’s part of the Global Change Research Program, which coordinates federal research on the changing climate, would be eliminated.

Interior Department takes a hit

The proposed budget requests a 16 percent funding decrease from the Department of the Interior, an agency tasked with conserving and managing the country’s natural resources and cultural heritage. The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) would be slashed by almost 97 percent. Created in 1964, the LWCF protects natural areas, water resources, and cultural heritage sites. National parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, community parks, trails, and ball fields in all 50 states are protected through federal funds from the LWCF

While the LWCF would be eliminated under Trump’s budget, there would be funds for developing fossil fuels and renewable energy on public lands. However, fossil fuel sources would receive more funding in certain areas. The Bureau of Land Management’s oil and gas activities would receive $195.5 million, its coal management would program would get $18.9 million, while renewable energy would get $29.5 million.

Funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would be slashed

The budget for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would be reduced by $80 million. Part of the reductions would include slashing funding for the Endangered Species Act listing program, which evaluates whether animals and plants should be protected under the Act, by $11 million. Funding for the Multinational Species Conservation Fund, a program that helps to protect elephants, tigers, and other foreign species, would be cut by $9 million. State and tribal wildlife grants would be cut by over 50 percent.

“We need to make a massive investment to save our natural heritage from the grasp of extinction,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The good news is we know what solutions and actions are needed to reverse the extinction crisis. All we need is the political will to achieve it.”

Research at the Department of Energy is a big loser

The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy would be eliminated. The administration’s reason for its elimination is to “enable a streamlining of Federal activities and ensures more focus on early-stage research and development, where the Federal role is strongest and reflects the private sector’s role in commercializing technologies.” Funding for energy research and development would be cut by nearly half. The irony of Trump wanting to reduce the DOE’s research and development is that legislation introduced by Republicans to deal with climate change leans heavily on innovation.

What you can do

Tell your House representative and senators to reject Trump’s budget. Email and call them to make your voice heard.

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