NRDC Experts: Congress Should Reject Extreme Trump Cuts to Health, Public Lands, and Clean Air, Water & Energy

***audio recording available***

WASHINGTON – Experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council called on Congress to reject President Trump's new budget proposal, as they lambasted its draconian cuts to critical health, energy, public lands, environmental protection, scientific research and climate work of the federal government.

“This is a reckless and irresponsible budget,” Scott Slesinger, NRDC legislative director, said during a telephone press conference today on Trump’s proposal. “If the President’s budget became law, the federal government would stop virtually all domestic and international efforts to curb pollution, ease most climate and environmental science and research, halt efforts to develop energy efficient and renewable energy technologies, and quit helping communities prepare for and recover from storms, floods, droughts and other climate change impacts.”

Other NRDC experts on the press briefing addressed budget impacts for the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, the Department of Interior and funding for scientific research.

David Doniger, director of the climate and clean air program at NRDC, added, “This is a budget that savages climate research.”

John Walke, NRDC Clean Air Director, focused on EPA, which Trump proposes to cut 31 percent.

“The Trump budget reflects an unrelenting hostility to EPA’s mission to enforce the law to protect Americans’ health and environment. It is an extreme and reckless budget that will jeopardize the legal duty to enforce health and environmental protections by not just EPA, but the states, too,” said Walke. “Like the Trump budget for fiscal year 2017 which Congress categorically rejected, this extreme proposal should be dead on arrival.

“Americans want health and environmental protections to be enforced, not undermined to the extreme degree that this reckless budget would do.”

The budget proposes to:

  • Eliminate the successful Energy Star program.
  • Eliminate geographic programs to the tune of $430 million, including the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay program.
  • Cut funding for Superfund cleanup 30 percent.
  • Cut grants to states and local governments 45 percent—with the likely outcome that states will raise fees on industry to make up the loss.
  • Cut EPA’s science and research funding 48 percent.

Elizabeth Noll, legislative director in NRDC’s Energy and Transportation Program, highlighted reductions to the Energy Department budget.

“The DOE has been immensely successful in reducing the cost of energy for millions of Americans by supporting local community efforts to make homes, buildings and businesses more efficient,” Noll said. “It has also served as a launch pad for the clean energy boom that is sweeping across America and indeed, shifting the global energy market.

“Congress needs to stand up against the Trump administration’s ‘starvation budget’ and make sure that U.S. workers and businesses stay at the forefront of this change to maintain economic growth while reducing harmful pollution. A budget that slashes support for clean energy simply doesn’t make sense for the American economy or the environment.”

She noted that among cuts, the Trump budget slashes renewable energy and efficiency programs by a devastating 70 percent. That covers popular energy efficiency programs that save consumers money as well as funding for research that drives job growth in the clean energy economy.

Energy Department support for clean energy innovation fosters partnerships with the national labs, more than 100 small businesses in 31 states and 24 international allies—which has made clean energy vastly more affordable, she said.

More in her blog, here:

Matthew McKinzie, Senior Scientist, NRDC Land & Wildlife program, and Director, Nuclear program, addressed the DOE’s proposed spending for nuclear weapons and initiatives.

“This budget proposes an increase in nuclear weapons research and development funding at the expense of civilian and clean energy programs that are making substantial contributions to a sustainable energy future,” McKinzie said.

About half of the proposed FY18 DOE budget would go to nuclear weapons activities and naval reactors and other expenses within the National Nuclear Security Agency. Another 23% would go to cleanup of Cold War nuclear sites, including the Hanford site in Washington State were an accident occurred this month involving radioactively contaminated material.

Generally, he said, nuclear complex cleanup funding is flat under the administration's FY18 budget, and the Hanford Cold War nuclear weapons site would see a slight reduction, from $2.23 billion this year to $2.22 billion in FY18.

The budget also calls for tens of millions of dollars for controversial Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

“The Yucca project will fail in the licensing process due to the unsuitability of the geology for long-term disposal of nuclear waste,” McKinzie said, “and Nevadans simply don't want tens of thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel flowing into their state by rail and by truck.”

Bobby McEnaney, Senior Deputy Director, Western Renewable Energy Project at NRDC, focused on funding priorities for the Department of Interior and its Bureau of Land Management

Trump’s budget calls for:

  • A 26 percent cut in resource management.
  • An 85 percent cut in an abandoned well cleanup program.
  • A 94 percent cut in environmental restoration which oversees coal reclamation work.
  • An 80 percent cut of tribal programs under management by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

While land acquisition and conservation and enforcement are cut, other areas such as the livestock grazing program stay flat, hard rock mining modestly increases and management of oil and gas and coal resources stays about the same.

“Essentially, this budget is really about destroying the conservation legacy the Department of Interior is invested to take care of,” McEnaney said. “And emphasizing oil and gas development over all other interests.”

For an audio recording of today’s press conference, go here:


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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