Summary

The Novim Group, in partnership with the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, held a briefing discussing a new report on the environmental and societal impacts of the Administration’s proposed climate and environmental research program cuts for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. Congress must act on funding the remainder of FY 2018 by March 23. Given that the Administration’s FY 2019 proposed climate and environmental cuts are quite similar to those in the FY2018 budget, the briefing also highlighted the similarities and differences between these two budgets. The briefing's speakers, who helped author the Novim report, gave an overview of its findings and conclusions.

The Administration’s FY 2018 budget proposed $7.8 billion for federally-funded climate and environmental (CE) R&D, a roughly $2 billion or 21 percent reduction in CE R&D between FY 2017 and 2018, with significant reductions to most of the 13 agencies in the climate and environment portfolio.

The Novim Group report was developed by a team of science and policy leaders who have served in Republican and Democratic administrations. The report informs policymakers and the broader community of the risks and impacts to the nation’s economic, societal, and environmental security and leadership if these climate and environment R&D cuts become a reality, including:

HIGHLIGHTS

 

Aristides Patrinos, Chief Scientist, NOVIM

  • NOVIM is a non-profit scientific organization committed to making complex scientific issues accessible to the public so as to provide solutions to many of the problems humanity faces.

 

Kei Koizumi, Visiting Scholar in Science Policy, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

  • The Administration's 2019 budget proposal follows a remarkably similar course for climate and environment research and development (CE R&D) as the one set in the 2018 proposal.
  • The NOVIM report is, therefore, relevant for both 2018 and 2019 funding.
  • The report is intended to inform policymakers in Congress and the executive branch, the scientific community, and the general public of the risks that America’s economic, societal and environmental security will face if the 2018 and 2019 proposed budget cuts become a reality.
  • Federally-sponsored CE R&D is critical to international programs supporting climate policies globally.
  • Thirteen federal departments and independent agencies would have faced dramatic cuts in the proposed 2018 budget. The cuts would have amounted to $2 billion (a 21 percent cut from FY 2017 funding levels).
  • We need to focus on the impact of CE R&D investements and what they mean for the nation. These investments address many problems, including:
    • Reliable economical access to safe food, water and energy.
    • Resiliency to natural disasters.
    • Avoiding negative impacts on the environment while maintaining a vibrant economy.
  • The proposed cuts in the 2018 budget would:
    • Dismantle programs that provide the scientific foundation for agencies to effectively protect the health, economic prosperity, and safety of Americans.
    • Break the continuity and integrity of longstanding and future observations and of the research infrastructure needed for climate and environmental modeling.
    • Undermine our ability to detect and understand critical climate and environmental trends and influences on natural resources.
    • Reduce our ability to train the next generation of scientists, resources managers, and decision makers who can work together to translate science into effective climate and environmental policies and approaches.
    • Diminish the nation’s ability to meet legal and international climate and environmental commitments.
  • The impacts of the proposed budget cuts have been grouped into five themes:
    • Investment and Capacity: the dramatic loss of investment and capacity to conduct CE R&D would result in a reduction in the number, size and duration of grants and contracts in R&D. This impacts the career of many people, including academic researchers. For example, the cuts would entirely eliminate EPA’s support to industries and universities for all disciplines.
    • Observations and Modeling: breaking the continuity and integrity of ongoing and future observations would be dangerous, as they are needed to plan climate resilient infrastructure. For example, certain NASA satellite missions are on the chopping block, and the crucial data they provide to study our planet is at risk.
    • Adaptation and Assessment: the proposed cuts threaten to undermine our ability to understand critical environmental trends and adapt to them. For example, the cuts would weaken NOAA’s competitive funding for communities to enhance their resilience.
    • Workforce: the proposed cuts would reduce the number of academic researchers, impacting short-term research projects but most significantly affecting the next generation of climate and environmental researchers. The report found that the 2019 cuts would be more severe than the 2018 ones with respect to the workforce.
    • International Commitments: the cuts would diminish our country's ability to meet its international climate and environmental commitments.
  • Congress has expressed a reluctance to go along with many of these proposed cuts [indeed, the cuts were not approved in the 2018 budget omnibus, which passed on March 23, exactly one week after this briefing].
  • However, the recently released 2019 budget proposal is quite similar to the 2018 one, so the cuts are still on the table for the current appropriations cycle.

The 125-page report provides a summary of the proposed FY 2018 reductions and an agency-by-agency detailed analysis. The complete report can be found at www.novim.org/projects/budget.

The Novim Group is a nonprofit scientific research organization committed to its role as an independent, non-advocacy source of data, providing clear options to the most urgent problems facing humanity.