President Donald Trump is keeping his commitment to reduce the size of government in part by cutting the staff and power of regulatory agencies, especially those with environmental and energy responsibilities, which he says have harmed businesses and cost jobs for little or no health or environmental gains. In addition, each agency’s remaining funds are being redirected to serve their core missions.
For example, the budget blueprint for the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) proposes cutting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget from $8.2 billion in 2017 to $6.1 billion in 2018, approximately 26 percent. EPA’s 15,000-person workforce would be cut by 20 percent, to 12,000. The OMB document says the cuts are aimed at “identify[ing] the savings and efficiencies needed to keep the nation on a responsible fiscal path.”
All EPA’s climate programs are on the chopping block. Other programs specifically targeted for elimination include the brownfields projects, Energy Star grants, endocrine disrupter grants under the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, environmental justice programs, 14 separate Climate Voluntary Partnership programs, multi-purpose radon grants from the Office of Public Engagement and Environmental Education, Star Research grants for small minority-owned businesses, the U.S. Global Change Research program, and various regional environmental clean-up and restoration programs. EPA’s Office of Research and Development would receive a 42 percent budget cut.
OMB’s blueprint reduces the Department of Commerce’s budget by 18 percent, including a 17 percent cut in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA’s cuts primarily target its climate research initiatives, not its weather monitoring and forecasting functions. In particular, the budget of NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service, which carries out or funds its climate and environmental research, would be reduced by 26 percent.
Trump’s budget proposal would reduce the Department of Energy’s (DOE) budget by about $1.7?billion, a relatively small 5.6 percent cut. Trump’s budget revives the Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility mothballed by former President Barack Obama over Congress’s objections. DOE’s core function of managing the nation’s nuclear power program and the nuclear fuel stockpile gets an 11 percent funding increase. By contrast, the OMB blueprint cuts the rest of the Energy Department’s programs by 17.9 percent, with the Office of Science, which undertakes most of DOE’s climate research, losing nearly 20 percent of its budget. Trump’s budget eliminates entirely DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy program and loan guarantees for new low-carbon energy projects. These are the programs that funded so many politically connected, now defunct, green energy companies, whose bankruptcies cost taxpayers billions of dollars. OMB says the cuts are justified because “the private sector is better positioned to finance disruptive energy research and development and to commercialize innovative technologies.”
Trump has laid out a bold, significantly smaller, vision for the nation’s environmental and energy agencies: a vision reflecting a more humble view concerning the government’s ability to control climate or predict the energy and environmental technologies that will best satisfy the desires and needs of future generations.
Congress, of course, ultimately sets the budget and will undoubtedly tinker with, modify, and perhaps ignore entirely some of Trumps proposed budget items. But the public will know, if the power and costs of U.S. environment and energy agencies aren’t significantly reduced – that is, if wasteful and unjustified energy and climate programs continue – Congress, not Trump, is to blame.
– H. Sterling Burnett
Next Week: 12th International Conference on Climate Change
There won’t be an issue of Climate Change Weekly in your inbox next week, as I’ll be speaking at the 12th International Conference on Climate Change hosted by The Heartland Institute on Thursday and Friday, March 23-24 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, DC.
Seats for this one are filling up fast, so if you’re able to attend, register today! If you’re unable to attend, all panels and plenary sessions will be live-streamed at climateconference.heartland.org.
If you’d like to support sensible public policy on climate and energy, please consider making a donation to help offset the conference expenses, which will be considerable. Heartland has established an Indiegogo funding site – please consider becoming a backer today, and forward the site link to your like-minded friends, family, and colleagues.
IN THIS ISSUE …
Reasons to rescind Social Costs of Carbon standard … G-20 may back off Paris climate commitments … Carbon dioxide sources not what alarmists claim … Chinese temperature reconstruction shows no anthropogenic warming … Little Ice Age, Medieval Warming were global
In a Washington Times article, Roger Bezdek and Paul Driessen provide a number of reasons the Trump administration should rescind the government’s Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) estimate – the foundation for the wide array of Obama administration climate policies and regulations. The SCC is supposed to provide an estimate of “the ‘hidden costs’ of carbon dioxide emissions associated with fossil fuel use, assigning a dollar value to each ton of CO2 emitted by power plants, factories, homes, vehicles, and other sources.”
The Obama administration calculated the SCC to be $36 per ton. As pointed out in the article, the SCC is an exercise in dark fantasy, depending on many unjustified assumptions. First, the basis for the SCC calculation is the unverified theory that human greenhouse gas emissions are causing dangerous climate change. If humans aren’t responsible for most of the present climate change, or the results are not catastrophic, and both of these points are subject to much debate and uncertainty, then the SCC calculation is “garbage in, garbage out.”
In addition, the SCC violates a 1993 executive order by then-President Bill Clinton requiring federal agencies assess both the benefits and costs of proposed regulations. The SCC ignores the economic benefits of fossil fuel use and the benefits to plants of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
Bezdek and Driessen say the use of fossil fuels generates up to $70 trillion in direct and ancillary annual global Gross Domestic Product. In addition, thousands of scientific studies show rising carbon dioxide levels are responsible for reducing deserts, expanding forests and grasslands, and improving plant drought resistance and crop yields. As a result, using the government’s own SCC cost figures and methodologies, Bezdek and Driessen “estimate that carbon benefits exceed costs by orders of magnitude: at least 50 to 1; as much as 500 to 1!”
SOURCE: The Washington Times
According to Bloomberg, a draft statement circulating among finance ministers for the United States, China, Germany, and other members of the Group of 20 economies in advance of a summit meeting scheduled for March 17 through 18 in Germany, G-20 nations seem to be backing away from commitments made they made in the Paris climate agreement to dramatically cut carbon dioxide emissions. Citing “scarce public resources,” the draft says rather than government action, the G-20 nations “encourage multilateral development banks to raise private funds to accomplish goals set under the 2015 Paris climate accord.” This represents a stark shift from a July 2016 statement issued by G-20 representatives calling on government to implement the Paris Agreement, including meeting their commitments to provide $100 billion annually by 2020 to the Green Climate Fund.
Bloomberg notes the G-20’s July statement dedicated 163 words to the Paris Agreement, “pushing nations to bring the deal into force, meet emissions targets and fulfill financial pledges. This current draft dedicates just 47 words to the agreement, focusing exclusively on development banks raising private funds, without mentioning government financial support.”
A new study published in Global and Planetary Change by Hermann Harde, a researcher at Helmut Schmidt University in Hamburg, Germany, says humanity’s contribution to rising greenhouse gas emissions is only a small portion of what is claimed by climate alarmists, and that carbon dioxide has a much shorter atmospheric life than commonly asserted.
Harde says most of the carbon dioxide increase during the twentieth century is due to natural factors, such as ocean degassing due in part to rising temperatures – that is, the rise in carbon dioxide lags the rise in temperatures, as is clear from records from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Harde estimates humans are responsible only for 4.3 percent of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and just 15 percent of the rise in emissions since the end of the Little Ice Age.
In addition, Harde’s analysis indicates when the carbon cycle – the release and uptake of carbon dioxide between and within oceans, lakes, and terrestrial sources – is accounted for properly, the average residence time of carbon dioxide under current conditions is only four years.
Harde’s claims contrast sharply with the majority of climate research. As with all research, Harde’s merits further testing for confirmation or refutation. His research shows there is much still to be understood concerning Earth’s climate and humanity’s impact on it. The science is hardly “settled.”
Researchers attempting to distinguish any anthropogenic influence on climate from natural climate change over the past 2,600+ years using tree ring data from four locations in Animaqin Mountains on the eastern Tibetan Plateau found the warmest period occurred from 890 to 947 AD. In addition, they reported in the journal Holocene, “no obvious warming trend since the industrial revolution was observed,” with “the mean of the most recent 50 years [being] only slightly higher than that of the whole series.”
SOURCE: CO2 Science
New research published in the journal Science provides evidence the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Periods were global, not regional, phenomena. This is one more nail in the coffin to the claim current global temperatures are unprecedented and thus could be caused only by human actions.
Assembling proxy temperature reconstructions of ocean heat content from sediment cores in the Pacific over the past 10,000 years, the researchers found large regions of the North Pacific and Antarctic Oceans were 2.1 ± 0.4°C and 1.5 ± 0.4°C warmer respectively, during periods of the middle Holocene Thermal Maximum (9,000 to 5,000 years before present) than over the past century. In addition, both water masses were approximately 0.9°C warmer during the Medieval Warm Period than during the Little Ice Age and approximately 0.65° warmer than in recent decades. These fluctuations in oceanic temperatures were associated with lesser but significant changes in global surface temperatures during these time periods.
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