The Trump administration continues not to prioritize the urgency behind climate change: President Donald Trump has called it a Chinese hoax, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has publicly questioned the science behind it. Trump released his proposed 2018 budget to the public yesterday (May 23), and it severely cuts programs dedicated to climate change.
The $4.094 trillion budget, which the administration has called “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” targets more than the environment, but, as The Washington Post reported, the EPA is bearing one of the largest cuts of any other federal agency, a 31 percent cut amounting to almost $3 billion.
Here, three key factors to consider as the budget heads to Congress, where it will likely undergo major changes before approval.
The budget cuts funding for natural disaster recovery
Science continues to show how climate change is making extreme weather hit harder and more often. Last year, the Southeast experienced firsthand what can happen as severe floods ravaged Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Hurricane Matthew ripped through North Carolina. Earlier this month, the Midwest experienced one-in-1,000 year rainfalls that resulted in severe flooding that killed 10 people.
Now, such locations may be on their own as the administration is proposing to eliminate entirely a $190 million flood-risk mapping program from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It helps inform residents of their flood risks and insurance companies of how much to charge customers, Bloomberg reports. Trump has already rejected nearly all of North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s request for further Hurricane Matthew funding, a motion foreshadowing what’s to come in federal handling of such disasters.
This can be especially devastating to poor communities of color that often bear the burden of these events and lack the funding to properly rebuild. In North Carolina, the city of Lumberton, which is home to mostly Black and Native American people, still needs $7 million just to clean up.
Renewable energy is also on the chopping block
This energy sector has seen growth whereas others, like coal, have seen loss, but that might soon change under the Trump administration. The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is set to lose $1.4 billion under this budget, reports ThinkProgress. The budget is also removing $3 billion from energy research.
Climate activists argue that the only way to truly stop climate change is to transition the energy economy toward renewables like solar and wind. For communities of color who live near natural gas or coal power plants like the Moapa Band of Paiutes in Nevada, the renewable industry can provide economic empowerment after decades of pollution from fossil fuels.
A report the International Renewable Energy Agency released today (May 24) shows that the renewable energy sector currently employs nearly 10 million people, and advocates believe this is an industry where marginalized communities can build employment opportunities.
Fossil fuel development, on the other hand, will see an increase in funding, as The Washington Post reported: In total, it amounts to roughly $50 million in extra funding.
Lead prevention is no longer a priority
The water crisis in Flint, Michigan put a spotlight on how the U.S. handles lead poisoning—especially among communities of color. It showed how far we have to go to effectively protect people, especially children whom can develop developmental issues from lead poisoning. No blood lead level is safe for children younger than five, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, Trump and his administration intend to get rid of the EPA’s lead risk-reduction program, per The Washington Post. This program, formally called the Renovation, Repair and Painting Program, helps ensure that firms involved in lead-based paint removal take all necessary steps to guarantee the paint doesn’t end up elsewhere in the home (in the form of dust and such). While Flint has put drinking water at the forefront of the lead conversation, paint is another medium through which children can be poisoned.
The budget’s general proposed cuts to the EPA paint a grim picture for environmentalists concerned with environmental pollution, including lead.
Find the budget’s full-text here.