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A Budget That Scorches the Planet

Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

President Trump opened a new front in his assault on our environment and health on Tuesday, releasing detailed budget proposals that amount to a scorched-earth campaign — literally and figuratively.

The budget calls for draconian cuts in programs that help clean up and protect our air, water, and lands from toxic pollution; support for energy efficient appliances that save families billions of dollars in energy costs each year; and the scientific research we depend on to grasp and confront emerging threats.

Generally, a president’s budget recommendations provide the starting point for debate in Congress, which has ultimate control over federal spending. This version falls short of that standard. Congress should ignore the president’s reckless recommendations and start from scratch with a budget that reflects our right to clean water and air and the long-standing American values around the need to leave our children a livable world.

Of every dollar the federal government spends, one-fifth of a penny goes to support the work of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — one-fifth of a penny to the agency charged with cleaning up our air and water and protecting us from dangerous pollution.

Trump wants to cut that by 31 percent, to reduce environmental protection resources next year by $2.6 billion — the same amount he wants taxpayers to spend to build a wall and otherwise buttress security along the U.S.-Mexico border. The cuts Trump has proposed would hobble the EPA so much that it would jeopardize the agency’s ability to do its job as required by law, exposing Americans to needless risk.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt calls this going “back to basics.” Going back — period — is more like it. The $5.7 billion Trump has proposed to fund the EPA next year would take the agency back to its lowest funding level since 1990. Adjusted for inflation, it’s the lowest level in 40 years, a period during which the U.S. economy has nearly tripled in size and the population has grown about 50 percent.

Our society has become larger and more complex, and so have the environmental hazards we face. We won’t build a more vibrant and prosperous nation by turning our back on those threats.

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Join us at the People’s Climate March

This Saturday in Washington and cities around the world many will be marching to demand climate action. NRDC Action Fund staff, donors and friends will be part of the NRDC presence at the People’s Climate March to send a clear message that we want a healthier world for future generations. Americans did not vote last November to empower coal, oil and gas lobbyists, and we will not be silent while they join the Trump administration and Congress to cripple the EPA and gut our nation’s environmental laws and safeguards.

Showing up is important, but not just at rallies and marches. Running for office is another way to protect the environment, so the NRDC Action Fund is partnering this weekend with other national 501c4 and political environmental groups and progressive organizations to hold a candidate training here in DC for marchers who might be interested in public service as elected officials.

While the Trump administration continues to weigh withdrawal from the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, the president is issuing executive orders aimed at reversing decades of environmental progress and more recent Obama-era actions that have made America a leading force in the global effort to address climate change. Some of the president’s allies in Congress want to go even further. Just this week in the Senate legislation was introduced that would make it much harder to enforce federal laws that safeguard human health, protect clean air and keep our water safe. It’s called the Regulatory Accountability Act, and we’re going to fight hard to stop it.

We hope you can join us this weekend, but you can still make your presence felt and your voice heard even if you can’t march on Washington or run for office. Your calls, letters and emails to lawmakers continue to be incredibly important as we work together to resist the Big Polluter agenda on Capitol Hill and in state capitals around the country.

TV Ad: Montana Can’t Afford Trump’s Dangerous Budget Cuts

WASHINGTON (April 18, 2017) – Television ads launched today across Montana warn that budget cuts sought by the Trump administration could threaten the health of rural Montanans by cutting vital water programs and cost jobs by harming the state’s lucrative outdoor economy. The ads, sponsored by the NRDC Action Fund, ask viewers to contact Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) to urge him to fight the Trump budget.

“Everybody wants access to clean and safe drinking water, but if President Trump gets his way, vital funding for water programs serving rural Montana could be eliminated. And the president’s proposed cuts to the Department of the Interior could do serious damage to our national parks and Montana’s outdoor industry, which could mean fewer jobs in the state,” said Kevin Curtis, executive director of the NRDC Action Fund, a national environmental advocacy group.

The Trump administration has proposed dramatic cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Interior and other agencies charged with protecting public health and public lands. In Montana, programs such as the USDA Rural Water Program, which provided Montana more than $13 million in infrastructure grants in FY 2016, are eliminated under a budget blueprint recently issued by the Trump administration.

View the 30-second ad here.

Trumpcare 2.0: President Launches Next Assault on Public Health

When Americans learned last month that President Trump’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act would result in 24 million people losing their health insurance, the overwhelming unpopularity of the measure helped to prevent it from even being brought to a vote in the House. But following Trumpcare’s collapse, the president moved quickly to unleash yet another attack on our health, this time with a reckless executive order that dismantles air pollution safeguards under President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and leaves us exposed to the consequences of climate change.

Trump’s executive order, coupled with his shocking attacks on the EPA’s enforcement budget, means that all Americans, especially the most vulnerable among us, could suffer. But President Trump and the fossil fuel-obsessed Cabinet officials tasked with carrying out his dangerous and misguided order are fighting a losing battle—against the will of the American people.

Americans overwhelmingly favor the environmental safeguards and air pollution protections the Obama administration built on the shoulders of 40+ years of bipartisan environmental laws. In a recent Quinnipiac poll, two-thirds of voters believe Trump should not dismantle climate protections. And it’s easy to see why: his failure to implement the Clean Power Plan could cause up to 3,600 more premature deaths, 90,000 more asthma attacks and 300,000 more missed days of work and school each year.

For the 25 million Americans living with asthma, unchecked climate change means hotter days and more dangerous ozone concentrations that will increase the risk of an attack. A warmer climate also means more frequent and more powerful storms that destroy homes and businesses, upending lives and livelihoods in the process. Those already struggling to make ends meet—the 46 percent of Americans who cannot afford a $400 emergency—will continue to be hit hardest by ever-intensifying natural disasters.

Trump’s assault on public health can be found throughout his proposed budget for the EPA, too. With arbitrary and radical cuts, the Trump administration aims to sabotage the EPA’s ability to keep Americans safe and hold polluters accountable when they bring about harm. Over 40 percent of the EPA’s budget goes to state-run programs that ensure our air and water are safe, but under Trump’s budget, much of this vital work would be scaled back or even shut down. The EPA also helps ensure pesticides or household cleaners are safe, and it oversees cleanup of toxic waste sites that pose health risks to people living or working nearby. Under Trump’s budget, all of this work to protect American families could be axed.

Here’s the bottom line: Tough enforcement of environmental safeguards and sensible efforts to fight climate change will protect the health of hundreds of thousands of Americans each year while creating a safer life for our children and grandchildren. Instead, President Trump is inviting polluters and fossil fuel company executives to write his policies.

Trump denies climate change is a threat, ignoring the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community and the opinion of most Americans. Why? Because sowing doubt leaves room for weaker protections, and weak pollution standards enable powerful polluters to grow their profits—at the expense of the health of the American people. It is a powerful lie with powerful consequences for millions of Americans. To sustain it, Trump knows he needs to convince people to question or dismiss the danger of climate change, if not its very existence.

But Americans are already experiencing the costly and dangerous impacts of climate change. We understand the urgent need for stronger pollution protections to save future generations from the worst impacts of a warming planet. Americans know that by dismantling the Clean Power Plan and safeguards like it, Donald Trump is hijacking the health of our families to prop up his powerful friends in the fossil fuel industry.

President Trump’s assault on the environment, embodied by his executive order on climate change and starvation budget for the EPA, is Trumpcare’s ugly cousin. It is an outright attack on our health, and it must be defeated. We will help bring it down in court, in the court of public opinion, in the halls of Congress and in the White House.

Kevin Curtis is executive director of the NRDC Action Fund.

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