Hands Off Our Air, Water, and Public Lands

Trump’s Budget Prioritizes Polluters and Sells Off Our Natural Heritage

Trump’s budget is a governmentwide assault on public health, the nation’s coasts and outdoors, and energy innovation.

Ana Maria Corona holds her asthma medication on August 7, 2007, in Arvin, California. (AP/Gary Kazanjian)
Ana Maria Corona holds her asthma medication on August 7, 2007, in Arvin, California. (AP/Gary Kazanjian)

Yesterday, the Trump administration released a detailed budget proposal that includes devastating cuts to the agencies and programs protecting our air and water, driving investments in clean energy at home and abroad, and supporting the nation’s $887 billion outdoor economy. Rather than supporting these critical programs, President Donald Trump’s budget prioritizes corporate polluters while sacrificing the health and well-being of American families and ignoring public opinion. For instance, even though two out of every three American voters oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Trump’s budget proposes opening this ecologically sensitive and iconic landscape for drilling—and the inevitable oil spills that follow petroleum development.

Below are a few highlights of how Trump’s budget cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Departments of Energy (DOE), Interior (DOI), Agriculture (USDA), and State, and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) will affect our children’s health, sell off our outdoor heritage, hurt families overburdened by financial instability, and halt future innovation across the country.

Trump’s proposed cuts to the EPA would cripple the programs that protect the air we breathe and water we drink

President Trump’s budget cuts EPA funding by 31.4 percent or $2.6 billion—the equivalent of upgrading more than 24 drinking water systems for communities in need like Flint, Michigan.

  • Eliminating clean air and climate protections: President Trump’s budget nearly halves EPA’s budget for critical climate and air quality science research. It also cuts the agency’s operating budget for climate and clean air work by one-third, which will undermine EPA’s core mission of protecting the environment and public health.
  • Weakening local, state, and regional environmental protection: Despite EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s call for “cooperative federalism,” the Trump budget would cut funding to states and tribes by 23.5 percent. These funds support state and tribal environmental programs that help control water pollution and reduce smog. Notably, the budget zeroes out funding for two grant programs designed to reduce children’s exposure to lead. Trump’s budget also eliminates funding for popular programs to protect and remediate important water bodies, including the Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes, Puget Sound, and others.
  • Slashing funding to clean up the nation’s most toxic sites: Trump’s budget also cuts funding to clean up the nation’s most contaminated sites and respond to environmental emergencies, oil spills, and natural disasters. Despite broad bipartisan support and Administrator Pruitt promising that cleaning up Superfund sites would be one of his top priorities, the administration’s budget proposal cuts the Superfund program by 30 percent.
  • Ending support for environmental justice programs: The EPA’s Environmental Justice Program works across EPA and with other agencies to address the disproportionately high risks of air and water pollution and climate change effects in historically underserved communities. Trump’s budget eliminates funding for this program, including its grants to improve public health in communities on the frontlines of pollution and climate change threats.

Trump’s targeted cuts to the DOE will decimate programs that are moving the nation toward a clean energy future

The Trump budget cuts DOE energy efficiency and renewable energy research and development  funding, or EERE, by 69 percent—which is the equivalent cost of buying more than 287 million LED light bulbs.

  • Halting the development of new clean energy technologies: DOE’s EERE funds development of clean energy and energy-saving technologies including refrigerators, solar panels, 3-D printing, and super-efficient trucks. Trump’s proposal cuts the EERE budget more than 69 percent, from more than $2 billion to just $636 million, to effectively hinder U.S. innovation for decades.
  • Ending support for private investment in new technologies: In addition to slashing funding for development of new technologies, Trump’s budget eliminates the DOE Loans Program that spurs private investment in new clean energy technology demonstration projects and leverage private financing that has been critical to supporting new technologies, such as storing solar energy and bringing this technology to market.
  • Eliminating attempts to spur innovation in energy: Trump’s budget also completely eliminates DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program which invests in big ideas that are not traditionally attractive to private investors. As one example, ARPA-E funded projects at several universities and companies that lower costs for renewable energy technologies by identifying substitutes for expensive materials like rare earth metals.

Trump’s cuts to the DOI would sell out public lands that support our nation’s $887 billion outdoor economy

The Trump budget cuts Interior funding by 12 percent, or $1.6 billion: the equivalent of 45 Yellowstone National Parks.

  • Cutting funding for our national parks: The National Park Service oversees the crown jewel of America’s public lands, our national parks. A few weeks after first proposing to cut 12 percent from the Interior department’s budget, President Trump’s press secretary ceremoniously handed a $78,000 check—Trump’s first-quarter earnings—to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to help the National Park Service. Trump’s publicity stunt check only covers 0.01 percent of $1.3 billion in “critical systems deferred maintenance” that the National Park Service urgently needs; now his full budget proposal cuts the National Park Service by 5 percent, or $183 million, from 2017 continuing resolution budget levels.
  • Slashing funding for playgrounds, baseball diamonds, and local parks: Established by Congress as a budget-neutral program to invest in recreation and conservation using the revenue from offshore oil development fees, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is one of the country’s most successful parks programs. The fund provides matching grants to state and local governments for uses from baseball diamonds to city parks. Although this popular parks program costs taxpayers nothing, Trump cuts funding levels by more than 65 percent from 2017 continuing resolution budget levels.
  • Underfunding rural counties: The Payment in Lieu of Taxes program makes payments to counties with federal lands, as these lands are exempt from local property taxes. These payments are typically directed to rural counties to help cover public safety and education expenses. Trump’s budget cuts this program by 12 percent from 2017 continuing resolution levels.
  • Selling off our public lands to the highest bidder: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oversees approximately 250 million acres of public lands and 700 million acres of federal subsurface estate including oil, gas, and coal reserves. The majority of the national monuments explicitly under review by Interior Secretary Zinke are administered by the BLM. Trump’s budget cuts BLM by 15 percent, or $223 million, from 2017 continuing resolution budget levels, which will hamstring the agency’s ability to fulfill its core missions—including conservation work, recreation services, and safe, responsible resource development.

Trump’s proposed cuts to USDA will take away from rural communities across the country

The Trump budget cuts USDA funding by $4.6 billion or 20.5 percent—the equivalent of feeding more than 3.5 million American families for a month. These cuts include billions of dollars to programs that protect and support rural livelihoods.

  • Cutting funds for rural water infrastructure: USDA’s Water & Waste Disposal Loans and Grants Program provides loans of last resort as well as grants to rural and tribal communities to maintain or replace aging water infrastructure. These communities face difficulties attracting private capital, and are often passed over by state drinking water revolving funds due to limited resources and high demand from large communities. This program, which had been funded at $492 million in the 2017 continuing resolution is eliminated in Trump’s budget.
  • Fighting wildfires across the country: Both the USDA and the DOI receive funding to fight forest fires on public land and protect natural resources and nearby communities. This funding is critical to the safety of millions of Americans, as more than 15 million acres have burned since 2015. Trump’s budget cuts funding for wildland fire management from 2017 continuing resolution levels by 12 percent at DOI—from $991.8 million to $873.5 million—and by 2 percent—from $2.525 billion to $2.49 billion—at USDA.

Trump’s budget kills NOAA’s science-based programs that help coastal economies build resilience to climate change, support ocean-dependent jobs and industries, and protect the most productive coastal habitats

The Trump budget zeroes out $166 million in funding that sustains NOAA’s Sea Grant program, Coastal Zone Management Grants, and the National Estuary Research and Reserve System. These highly cost-effective programs protect coastal communities and economies, but the Trump budget cuts are equivalent to almost three times the total cost of removing two obsolete dams on Maine’s Penobscot River, which restored 1,000 miles of commercial fish habitat. If enacted, Trump’s budget would:

  • Eliminate help for coastal states to prepare for extreme weather and rising seas: NOAA’s Sea Grant program funds marine scientists at universities nationwide to help coastal communities maintain thriving fish stocks, restore coastal ecosystems, and build resilience to threats including sea level rise and extreme weather. Its $73 million budget in 2015 generated $575 million in positive economic impact nationwide, as well as 127,348 acres of restored coastal habitat.
  • Threaten states’ ability to sustain America’s great coastal economies: In 2016, NOAA’s Coastal Zone Management program provided $70 million in grants to coastal states, matched by an additional $57 million from states governments, so that state and local communities can plan for sea level rise and extreme weather, restore water quality, enhance public access to the beach, and carry out other activities that sustain coastal communities.
  • Eliminate protection for the most productive coastal habitats: NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System protects the nation’s most productive, economically important coastal wetlands. More than 68 percent of commercially harvested seafood and 80 percent of recreationally harvested fish depend on estuaries for habitat; in 2011, saltwater fishermen generated more than $199 billion in sales, supporting more than 1.7 million jobs.

Trump’s proposed cuts to the international climate budget at the Department of State and USAID threaten the economic prosperity and national security of the United States

Trump’s budget decreases funding for the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) by 28 percent or $10.1 billion from 2017 levels. This cut is equivalent to the funding levels pledged for 43 different projects across the globe that will  increase climate resilience for 128 million people.

  • Undermining a legacy of bipartisan support for low-carbon and climate-resilient development: Trump’s budget would provide no funding for two flagship multilateral climate funds, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs), which promote clean energy and disaster preparedness in developing countries. It would also eliminate bilateral climate aid and the Global Climate Change Initiative, which was launched in 2010 to ensure that U.S. development assistance facilitates low-carbon and climate-resilient growth. These cuts are at odds with the U.S. value of aiding the most vulnerable, given that climate change disproportionately harms low-income populations. They are also at odds with U.S. economic and security interests, given that the effects of climate change are already imposing soaring costs; threatening military assets; and increasing the risks of political volatility. Climate aid therefore has a strong history of bipartisan support in the United States, with President George W. Bush pledging $2 billion to the CIFs in 2008 and President Barack Obama pledging $3 billion to the GCF in 2014. To date, the United States has delivered only one-third of the GCF pledge; Trump’s budget would prevent further transfers.


President Trump’s budget goes after programs whose benefits far outweigh their costs, just to boost corporate polluters’ profits. Through these senseless budget cuts, the Trump administration is putting lives on the line, opening our treasured public lands up to degradation, and undermining years of progress in clean energy innovation.

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the CAP Energy and Environment Team