President Donald Trump‘s first budget plan treats climate change as the hoax he once called it, slashing funding for federal action, international cooperation and research on global warming as part of $54 billion in budget cuts. No agency would be harder hit than the Environmental Protection Agency.
The budget blueprint released Thursday is only the first step in the process. Congress will weigh in and oppose the loss of popular programs and the plan’s failure to address the deficit. To pass cuts to discretionary programs like those at EPA would require some Democratic support to reach 60 votes in the Senate, which is unlikely. But the White House is likely to find significant support among Republicans, particularly for cutting the EPA, which under President Obama spent four years developing the signature effort on climate change, the Clean Power Plan.
Under Trump’s plan, the EPA budget would be slashed by a third and lose 3,200 of its 15,000 employees.
The budget outline doesn’t go into detail on the individual program cuts, and it doesn’t include any new taxes or other revenue. Trump is seeking to pay for a large increase in Pentagon spending entirely through cuts in domestic programs and the State Department.
When asked about climate change, Office of Management and Budget Director Michael Mulvaney said in a press conference: “We’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money.”
Here’s a rundown of the planned cuts to climate-related programs.
Environmental Protection Agency
The agency would see the largest cuts in its history: $2.6 billion, or 31.4 percent of its budget. The planned cut of 3,200 positions would put staffing at its lowest level since 1978. About $100 million would be saved by discontinuing funding for the Clean Power Plan and any international climate change, climate change research and partnership programs.
Trump seeks to eliminate the $50 million Energy Star program, a 25-year-old voluntary labeling program that saves consumers and businesses an estimated $24 billion to $34 billion a year by helping them choose more efficient appliances.
Department of Energy
The White House would eliminate the $291 million Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), created in 2007 to spur research into alternative energy systems. The agency recently reported that 74 projects it has funded have attracted more than $1.8 billion in private sector funding.
The budget outline also includes an 18 percent cut in funding for all of the agency’s programs except for nuclear arsenal stewardship, which will see an increase.
The agency that pioneered the world’s understanding of the greenhouse effect and impact of carbon pollution on Earth would see its mission refocused on space. The agency’s overall budget remains level under the proposal, but money would be moved into programs such as exploration of Jupiter’s moon and research into reviving supersonic commercial aviation.
The White House would terminate the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3, an instrument that was to be installed on the International Space Station later this year, and three other Earth-science missions that would have aided in climate research. The instrument was designed to show for the first time a geographic distribution of carbon dioxide sources and sinks on a regional scale.
Also axed would be the not-yet-launched PACE mission (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem), designed to deliver comprehensive global ocean color measurements to monitor the health of the ocean; DSCOVR, the Deep Climate Space Observatory; and the Pathfinder mission for the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory, designed to improve climate models and inform policy.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The proposal includes $250 million in cuts to grants and programs supporting coastal and marine management, research and education, including the entire Sea Grant program supporting university research into coastal ecosystems, fisheries and aquaculture, climate resilience and environmental literacy. A part of the Sea Grant program’s mission is to prepare for and communicate the threat of climate change.
Department of State/U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
The two leading agencies for international climate work would be cut by a combined $10.1 billion, or 28 percent.
The budget eliminates the Global Climate Change Initiative, which funds all climate-related bilateral efforts, such as partnerships with China and India. It also funds the U.S. contribution to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the global body administering the Paris climate agreement) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the international group assessing the latest climate science). GCCI programs also include helping developing countries track and reduce their emissions and grow their renewable energy capacity.
The budget eliminates the U.S. contribution to the Green Climate Fund to help developing nations prepare for climate impacts, to which it had pledged $3 billion. Only $1 billion has been paid out.
Department of Interior
The department that manages the nation’s federal land and oversees a broad array of climate research would see its funding cut by 12 percent, to $11.6 billion. The blueprint calls for increased funding for programs that support energy development on federal lands, including offshore, but provided no spending figure.
The U.S. Geological Survey would see a cut of roughly 10 percent to $900 million, although continued funding is promised for the Landsat 9 system, a satellite monitoring program being built in conjunction with NASA as part of the USGS’s climate change and land use division. Also preserved is support for natural hazard risk reduction, supporting research into helping coastal communities deal with sea level rise, melting permafrost in the Arctic and severe storms.
Department of Agriculture
The department would see a 29 percent cut over the 2016 budget, the third biggest of any agency. The blueprint calls for slashing agency service centers where farmers go for information and technical support, including conservation measures through the Natural Resources Conservation Service.