WASHINGTON (September 14, 2017)—The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass a fiscal year 2018 spending package today. The bill would cut funding for critical environmental, science and public health protection programs and includes a host of harmful anti-science policy riders.
Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“The House spending package would take the country backwards when it comes to investing in strong public health and safety policies, as well as science and technology. That the House is willing to cut NOAA’s environmental satellite capacity by nearly one fourth after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma pummeled Texas and Florida is flabbergasting. NOAA’s satellite system provides 93 percent of the data used by the National Weather Service’s models and supports near-real time weather and storm tracking. Cutting this satellite system could undermine our ability to accurately forecast and prepare for extreme weather, vital tasks that save lives, as we have seen over the last few weeks.
“Shockingly, the House package also significantly underfunds FEMA’s pre-disaster mitigation program, which provides technical assistance and grants to states, tribes and communities. The program helps reduce the risk and damage of disasters through preparedness planning, including infrastructure design and implementation.
“Meanwhile, this bill cuts the Environmental Protection Agency to its lowest funding level since 2008. The agency's research division would lose more than $100 million in critical funding, and other cuts would directly impact communities of color, including a 15 percent reduction to the Office of Environmental Justice, which works to makes sure that certain communities don’t bear a disproportionate share of environmental risk.
“The spending package is fundamentally inequitable, forcing state and local governments, as well as the most economically vulnerable communities, to shoulder a disproportionate burden. Furthermore, it is riddled with harmful riders that sideline science. All eyes are now on the Senate, which has an opportunity to show true leadership by fully funding the agencies needed to advance science and the health and well-being of communities.”