Grijalva Highlights Potential Real-World Impacts of Impending Interior Department Budget Cuts Republicans Won’t Oppose

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva today highlighted the real-world impacts of a 10 percent budget cut across the Department of the Interior (DOI), a figure that has been widely suggested as the Trump administration’s likely target for fiscal year 2018. Greenwire reported on Feb. 28 that Trump is likely to seek a 10 percent Department-wide budget cut, citing multiple sources.

Among other impacts, if implemented evenly across DOI agencies, a 10 percent reduction would eliminate funding equal to the budgets of the 12 largest National Park Service units, including Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Everglades and Great Smoky Mountains national parks; the Bureau of Land Management’s oil and gas inspection program; the U.S. Geological Survey’s landslide, earthquake and volcano hazard monitoring program; and the budget for every fish hatchery and National Wildlife Refuge visitor center across the country.

Such cuts would be felt by every American, Grijalva said, emphasizing that Republican officials are promoting them in order to pay for the Trump administration’s unrealistic military buildup rather than out of any genuine necessity. As Bloomberg reported on March 2, Trump announced the buildup “as he visited a new aircraft carrier whose construction in Virginia is delayed and over budget.” As the news service noted accurately, “The U.S. spends more on defense than the next seven countries in the world combined.”

“Closing national parks, hobbling critical federal agencies, and blinding ourselves to natural disasters is beyond reckless,” Grijalva said. “This president is trying to run the federal budget like it’s a first grade math problem. Instead of trying to comprehend the complexities of a budget for a country this size, he just wants to subtract ten percent and go to lunch early.”

An across-the-board 10 percent cut to each DOI agency is not assured, but using that figure as a baseline, the FY18 budget presents the following scenarios, among others, in addition to the possibilities already listed:

-          The elimination of the entire budget of the Bureau of Reclamation’s “Safety of Dams Evaluation and Modification” program

-          The elimination of the entire federal budget for Indian water rights settlements

-          The elimination of more than a quarter of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s research budget, or the entirety of the agency’s research budget for marine mammals and protected species

-          The elimination of the budget for oil spill research at the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement

-          The end of the Empowering Insular Communities Program, which helps island territories end dependence on foreign imported oil

Grijalva said the FY18 budget presents a crucial test of whether Republicans in Washington are capable of offering ideas beyond those the Trump administration approves.

“Gutting our environmental agencies to pay for bombs, tanks and missiles we don’t need is immoral, and the voters won’t forget it,” Grijalva said. “Before they sign off on that program, Republicans might consider what happened in Washington after the American people got fed up with the Bush administration.”

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