Trump's 2019 Budget Takes Aim At Environmental, Climate Change, And Astrophysics Research

It could have been worse, but it's still not great. Evan El-Amin/Shutterstock

At the start of this week, the Trump administration’s second full budget proposal was unleashed on the public – but although it initially looked utterly dire for federal science, an additional document released by the White House just after the budget proposal came out reverses some of the budget’s initial cuts.

Originally, the funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) were set for deep cuts; in general, there was a 20 percent cut proposed for basic science. Now – thanks to a spending cap increase agreed by Congress last week – it appears they’ll be kept at 2017 levels. Other agencies, however, are still in the crosshairs.

Let’s take a brief look at what the White House is proposing to change in American federal science and R&D programs.

The original budget can be viewed here, with the addendum viewable here.

As expected, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is once again the target of the most draconian cuts. Vox reported that the EPA was set for a 33.7 percent cut, but the addendum revises this downward slightly. It’s now somewhere along the lines of 23 percent, according to the Washington Post – still a record-low, if enacted.

At the same time, all the EPA’s in-house work on climate change is to be essentially eliminated.

Climate change research programs across the federal government are hit pretty heavily. One, the Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI), is designed to support climate change resilience and mitigation plans in developing countries – and it’s set to be canceled. Other, similar programs run out of the State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) would have their funding wound down.

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The Paris agreement is referred to in the proposal as “unfairly placing the US at a financial disadvantage,” something which is demonstrably untrue.

The United States Geological Survey will be slashed by around 21 percent. Most jarringly, its monitoring programs for earthquakes and volcanoes would also be cut by 21 percent. At the same time, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would be cut by 20 percent, lose its grant and education programs, and it'd lose its Arctic research program, per ArsTechnica.

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