The White House budget for 2018 is out, and it’s not pretty. President Trump’s campaign pledge to slash spending has manifested in stunning cuts to non-military programs, including many of the environmental agencies that protect wildlife and keep our air and water clean.
Trump’s targets range from the big (the EPA would lose a third of its budget) to the seemingly petty (elimination of inexpensive youth programs run by the Fish Wildlife Service), but all of them send a crystal clear message that this administration doesn’t understand—or appears not to care about—the US government’s irreplaceable role in keeping our planet habitable.
Luckily, the Founding Fathers had enough foresight to give Congress a major role in all of this: Although the president suggests spending plans, it’s up to the House and Senate to actually write the real budget, and despite the abundant presence of fiscal conservatives in both chambers, early indications are that Congress sees Trump’s plan as “dead on arrival” not to mention wishful thinking based on wishful economic thinking.
IFAW is now working with legislators to ensure that our priorities aren’t left on the cutting room floor. Of particular concern is funding for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which is on the short list of the world’s most vital humanitarian agencies, overseeing conservation, community assistance, and public health initiatives in less-affluent countries. According to leaked memos from the White House, around forty nations will be denied any aid in 2018, including places like Malawi and Zambia where IFAW works to reduce elephant and rhino trafficking.
Terrestrial species aren’t the only ones at risk. NOAA—the oceans agency—is threatened with a billion dollar hit in 2018, including a 26% cut to funding for Sanctuaries and Marine Protected Areas, elimination of the Marine Mammal Commission, and elimination of the Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program.
Climate programs in numerous departments, as expected, are hammered to the breaking point. The list goes on.
Fortunately, IFAW advocates have natural allies in the anti-poverty and public health communities, and this White House budget is so over-the-top that even more voices are speaking out against it than you might normally expect. But the rest of the world can’t fill in these massive proposed gaps, and we have to make sure that pressure to compromise doesn’t lock us into a spending plan that’s still drastically punitive to the planet.
Members of Congress will be back in their districts this Memorial Day Weekend. Now might be a good time to tell them what you think.
Article source: IFAW