President Trump’s administration recently released its proposed budget for 2018, and things aren’t looking too good for endangered species conservation. Proponents of conservation and environmental protection are frustrated, to say the least. Several agencies would receive large cuts in funding, potentially reversing some of the work that has been accomplished over the last 40 years—since the creation of the Federal Endangered Species Act in 1973.
What would this look like?
Funds, Programs, and Agencies Affected
- S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Science and Technology budget
- Environmental Program and Management budget
- Restoration budget for Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes, Puget Sound, Gulf of Mexico
- EPA Superfund Program
- State/local air pollution control agencies
- Funding for programs: radon detection, lead risk, border environment
- S. Fish & Wildlife Service
- Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- National Ocean Service
- Ocean and Atmospheric Research
- Marine Mammal Commission
- National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would be the agency to experience the most cuts under Trump’s proposed budget plan. The EPA’s overall budget would be cut by nearly a third—down to $5.65 billion from the previous $8.2 billion—which would be its lowest level in 40 years. Large cuts of 30 percent or more would take place in many sectors, including the EPA’s Science and Technology budget, the Environmental Program and Management budget, federal grants for local/state air pollution control agencies, and the Superfund program, which focuses on cleaning up hazardous waste sites due to natural disasters, oil spills, and environmental emergencies. The funding for many smaller programs would be done away with entirely, such as lead risk reduction and radon detection programs, as well as U.S.-Mexico border projects and environmental justice initiatives.
Several state-level programs would also have their funding eliminated, including programs designed to protect or restore watershed areas such as Chesapeake Bay, Puget Sound, the Great Lakes, and the Gulf of Mexico. States would also receive cuts in grant funding for individual environmental programs.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services would have its budget reduced by a whopping $34 million, which is a 64 percent overall reduction. This fund has been instrumental in partnering with federal and state agencies to work toward recovering plants and animals listed under the Endangered Species Act. Funding for foreign endangered species would also be reduced by 19 percent, as well as reducing funding for the endangered species listing program by 17 percent—despite the fact that as many as 500 animals and plants are on the waiting list for proposed protection.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would receive cuts of 16 percent under the proposed budget as well. Several ocean programs fall under the umbrella of the NOAA, and while 16 percent doesn’t sound like a lot compared to some of the other agencies, it would still mean a loss of $1 billion dollars for ocean research and management. Programs such as the National Ocean Service and the Oceanic and Atmospheric Research would have their budgets reduced by a significant amount. The NOAA’s ability to predict climate and weather change, monitor oceans and coasts, and conserve coastal resources and marine life would be drastically reduced.
The Marine Mammal Commission
The Marine Mammal Commission is a small but influential independent federal agency that uses scientific methods to monitor both U.S. and international policies on the impacts humans have on the ocean and its marine life. This agency partners with other agencies to help protect marine mammals, and funding for the commission would be entirely cut under the new budget—despite the fact that it costs an American only 1 cent per year to support this organization.
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) facilitates a protected species program that works to conserve and recover threatened or endangered marine mammals and reduce human impact on marine life. As it stands, the program is already lacking in funding, and yet will receive a $7 million cut with the new budget. The largest cut of the NMFS would be $22 million from the Fisheries Research and Management Program, which reduces funding for regional fishery management councils and fish stock assessments in addition to monitoring fisheries and collecting data. The NMFS needs additional funding, not budget cuts. Protecting and monitoring marine life is essential to our environment and the balance of our ecosystem.
Federal agencies and programs that are geared toward conservation, science, and environmental protection seem to be crippled under the proposed 2018 budget. In addition, it seems that cleanup of pollution and promotion of clean energy are not prioritized, disappointing many who have worked hard toward these goals.
Trump’s reallocation of funds would favor spending on building a border wall—which would, in turn, endanger the plant and animal life near where the wall would be built. A recent study showed that if Trump’s plans succeed, the border wall will be built in the middle of several national monuments and wildlife refuges, including Big Bend and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, in addition to threatening as many as 93 types of endangered species. There are many wildlife habitats in the area of the proposed border wall that will be destroyed or upset, and migration corridors will be hampered. In addition, areas that were once natural terrain and homes for animals will become populated—or at least vehicle traffic will increase—and more lights and sounds will be present to drive animal life away. So not only will endangered species be threatened by removing a portion of agencies’ funding, more plants and animals will be harmed or potentially harmed by the reallocation of funds in Trump’s proposed budget.
Jacqueline Savitz, the senior vice president for the U.S. Oceans and Global Fishing Watch for Oceana—an international organization that works specifically on ocean conservation—made this statement:
“The Trump administration should recognize that responsible stewardship of our natural resources is good for the U.S. economy, good for the American people, and good for the world.”
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