The Trump Administration is taking a cool fiscal position on feverish global warming alarm-driven regulatory agendas. Politicized EPA, NASA, NOAA, and DOE programs will be targeted for special discipline.
Curbing EPA overreach
New EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is certain to withdraw the proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP), a key Obama Administration “legacy goal” which was never implemented due to legal challenges by several Republican states.
Former Oklahoma Attorney General Pruitt has been a party to several lawsuits against the EPA, including those that led to a Supreme Court stay on CPP and an appeal court’s hold on the “Water Rule.” His policies will rely more upon state agencies rather than upon appointed federal officials to be “our nation’s front-line environmental implementers and enforcers.”
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito clearly supports the new EPA administrator’s legal positions. Speaking at a February Claremont Institute event, he pointed out that, “When Congress authorized the regulation of pollutants, what it had in mind were substances like sulfur dioxide, or particulate matter — basically, soot or smoke in the air. Congress was not thinking about carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.”
He warned that, “Now, if the administrative agency [EPA] can do that, I don’t know what an administrative agency cannot do. Lawmaking power has been transferred from Congress to the executive.”
Citing the EPA’s Water Rule as another example, Alito said that it was based upon an obscure legal interpretation which everyone, including Congress, assumed to mean rivers and lakes. “But what about a stream that is dry for most of the year? What about an irrigation ditch? What about a soggy backyard?”
Overall, the EPA’s annual budget may be trimmed by about 26% — from $8.2 billion in 2017 to $6.1 billion in 2018. Its climate protection portion would be cut by nearly 70% to $29 million. The agency’s 15,000-person workforce would be lightened by 20% to about 12,000.
Launching NASA priorities back into space
A recently passed U.S. Senate “NASA Transition Act of 2017” would redirect funding aimed at studying global warming (aka., climate change) to space exploration priorities that the agency was originally created to pursue. The bill will very likely be passed in the House and signed into law.
NASA’S annual budgets for Earth and climate studies, which increased by 63% under the Obama Administration to $826.7 million currently, would be reduced next year by about $102 million.
Nevertheless, this is still nearly as much as the $781.5 million total received by astrophysics, space technology, and all other NASA science functions combined.
Senior Trump campaign advisor and former Republican Rep. Bob Walker told The Guardian that, while he believes that climate research is necessary, ” . . . it has been heavily politicized, which has determined a lot of the work that researchers have been doing. Mr Trump’s decisions will be based upon solid science, not politicized science.”
NOAA’s climate research in hot water
As I reported last February, a former NOAA scientistand whistleblower has charged that the organization rushed the release of “unverified” global temperature data in order to advance 2015 Paris climate conference policy agendas. The contrived data contradicted satellite and land record evidence of flat global temperatures between 1998 and 2013.
House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) explained, “The American people have every right to be suspicious when NOAA alters data to get politically correct results they want, and then refuses to reveal how those decisions were made.”
According to Politico, the Trump Administration would trim 17% from NOAA’s climate research initiatives. NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research would lose $126 million (26%), and its satellite data division would lose $513 million (22%).
DOE’s unsustainable energy debacles
The Trump Administration and Republican-controlled Congress may very well eliminate the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, which has doled out billions of taxpayer dollars for now-defunct low-carbon energy projects.
For example, Solyndra crashed after burning through $527 million in government loans. SunEdison, which billed itself as the world’s largest green energy company, filed for bankruptcy after receiving nearly $650 million in subsidies and tax credits since 2000.
The Spanish energy company Abengoa filed for Chapter 15 protection in the U.S. after billing taxpayers $2.7 billion in DOE loans since 2010 to build two solar energy projects and a massive cellulosic biofuels plant.
As a recent White House OMB document observes, necessary cuts in these and other agencies will be aimed at “identify[ing] the savings and efficiencies needed to keep the nation on a responsible fiscal path.”
The report further argues that “the private sector is better positioned to finance disruptive energy research and development and to commercialize innovative technologies.”
Maybe it’s time to give that radical free market concept a chance.