Trump Budget Disregards Science, Puts Public Health, Innovation at Risk

Published May 23, 2017

WASHINGTON (May 23, 2017)—President Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget is a deeply unjust budget that would disproportionately harm poor and working class Americans, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. The budget would impose massive cuts on health, environmental and safety net programs. It also would gut federal research in the energy, climate science and medical fields.

Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists and former Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner.

“President Trump’s proposed budget takes a wrecking ball to agencies that protect our health, safety and environment. His budget would gut the EPA, for example, taking our environmental cops off the beat and allowing those who would seek to pollute to get away with it.  I also know from my experience heading a state environmental agency that states have neither the funds nor the staff to pick up the slack when federal enforcement is decimated.

“His budget would also stall out U.S. technological innovation and scientific research, and the country’s capabilities to respond to extreme weather and national security threats. This is all while driving up the deficit to pay for massive military budget increases we don’t need. The Department of Energy, for example, has an office that’s breaking new ground on advanced energy technologies that could boost the U.S. economy significantly. But the president doesn’t have the foresight to see the benefit of these types of programs.

“We need a budget that takes us forward, not backwards. Members of Congress should oppose this budget and ensure that agencies in charge of keeping American families safe and healthy have the funding to do their jobs.”

Below is a statement by Kathleen Rest, executive director of the Union of Concerned Scientists and a public health expert.

“Communities across the country will pay the price—literally and figuratively—for President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to federal agencies that protect public health and safety.  Slashing the EPA budget by a third will increase exposure to toxic substances like mercury, arsenic, and soot in the air we breathe and water we drink.

“At the USDA, it’s difficult to overstate just how egregious the proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program would be. They would create suffering and hunger for millions of people—people in rural and urban America from every racial and ethnic background.

“Similarly, a 17 percent cut to the CDC is a significant hit to our nation's premiere disease prevention agency, just as cuts to workplace safety and research programs would put our nation’s workforce at risk.

“These proposed cuts clearly reflect the administration’s continued assault on our public protections, particularly for our most vulnerable populations and communities. Congress should do the right thing and put the public interest first.  We cannot afford to play Russian roulette with our health.”

Additional Information:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): 

The Trump administration’s budget constitutes an assault on the EPA by cutting its funding 31.4 percent relative to the 2017 fiscal year continuing resolution (CR). 

The proposed budget would:

  • Slash funding for the Superfund program by $330 million, despite Administrator Pruitt’s claim he would prioritize clean-ups ofthe most hazardous sites in the country, many of which are located in low-income and minority communities.
  • Devastate the Office of Air and Radiation, imposing a 44 percent cut in their funding relative to the FY17 CR and eliminating all climate programs. The budget also reduces federal support for states, tribes, and local air pollution control agencies to monitor local air quality by nearly 23 percent.
  • Cut the total enforcement budget approximately 24 percent compared to the FY17 CR. This counters President Trump’s message of upholding the rule of law.
  • Restrict the work of EPA’s National Vehicle and Fuels Emission Laboratory by cutting funding by 18 percent. Known as the “Vehicle Lab,” this EPA program is responsible for certifying that vehicles sold in the U.S. comply with emissions standards.
  • Eliminate funding for geographic programs, including the Chesapeake Bay program and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. These regional programs help reduce pollution in economically and environmentally critical ecosystems, and protect waterways.
  • Zero out EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, which works to ensure there are safeguards for vulnerable populations facing the greatest public health and environmental threats, including communities of color.
  • Cut the Office of Research and Development (ORD) by 52 percent compared to the FY17 CR. ORD has 14 facilities in 12 states across the country and is critical to ensuring that EPA achieves its science-based mission of protecting human health and the environment.    

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE):

The budget would impose withering cuts to DOE’s energy and technology innovation funding; the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), for example, would be cut by more than 62 percent compared with the funding levels in the 2017 fiscal year CR bill. EERE collaborates with innovators and businesses to conduct R&D in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable transportation.  These cuts would decimate the renewable technology offices as well as critical energy efficiency programs that save consumers money.  It would also severely impact National Laboratories, which receive one third of EERE’s funding.  

If passed, the budget would also eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) which funds high-potential, early-stage clean energy projects, filling a gap in private sector investment where risk is too high.  Funding for ARPA-E is critical to maintaining America’s competitive advantage in the growing global clean energy market and to identifying innovative solutions to the climate crisis.  

The budget also greatly reduces investment in critical research that helps with technology innovation for vehicles that will decrease fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Together, the vehicle technology, bioenergy, and fuel cell programs, under the budget, would be cut by 70 percent relative to the 2017 CR.  

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

The budget proposes to eliminate funding for several NOAA grant and education programs, including Sea Grant, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, Coastal Zone Management Grants, the Office of Education, and the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund. All of these are critical to helping the nation adapt to a changing environment. The elimination of these programs has repercussions on the scientific research itself, as well as on emergency preparedness, disaster risk reduction, and national security. Programs like Sea Grant, for example, enable universities to conduct research that helps states prepare for coastal flooding.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA):

The White House budget proposes to terminate five Earth Science Missions which have furthered knowledge of biological, physical, chemical and extraterrestrial processes: Radiation Budget Instrument (RBI), PACE, OCO-3, DSCOVR Earth-viewing instruments, and CLARREO Pathfinder. These five NASA Missions are critical tools for improving predictive capacity for everything from agricultural commodities and water management to infrastructure management.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):

The White House’s proposed cuts to the FEMA’s budget would seriously undermine the nation’s ability to prepare for and recover from disasters. The 2018 budget proposes eliminating the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis Program, which is vital for communities seeking to understand climate risks and take protective measures. The budget also cuts funding for the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program by nearly 61 percent. The program helps states, local governments and communities plan and implement long-term measures to reduce the risks and losses from disasters.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA):

The budget proposal decreases USDA funding by 21 percent. It cuts programs that would leave rural and urban farmers, low-income families, and taxpayers vulnerable. For instance, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—a cost-effective program with a track record of success in alleviating hunger and poverty—would be devastated by nearly $193 billion in cuts, or roughly a 28 percent reduction of program spending. The decrease will directly lead to suffering and hunger for millions of Americans in communities across the country.

In addition, the White House budget would significantly alter key agricultural research and conservation programs, undermining the ability of farmers to sustain their land and their livelihoods for the future. The budget would slash more than $33 million from critical agricultural research programs such as the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program (SARE). Funding for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program would be eliminated. This denies farmers the science they need to maintain economic profitability and adapt to the harsh realities of a changing climate, and would leave the nation’s natural resources more at risk due to pollution.