U.S. Government Spends $55 Billion to Harm the Environment

A coalition of environmental, taxpayer and consumer groups in the United States has released a report on 74 federal programs whose elimination could protect the environment and save taxpayers $55 billion.

WASHINGTON, DC – “President Bush wants to give taxpayers a break; well, here’s a $55 billion start that also protects the environment,” says Erich Pica of the Green Scissors Campaign run by Friends of the Earth. “This is the President’s opportunity to take green scissors to the federal budget.” The Green Scissors 2001 report is endorsed by more than 24 organizations and highlights programs that taxpayer, environmental and consumer organizations agree should be cut. This year’s report highlights ten activities that are particularly vulnerable to congressional actions, as well as nine new programs that hurt the environment and waste taxpayer dollars. The full list of recommended cuts ranges from money losing timber sales to coal industry subsidies. “These subsidies only fatten the wallets of corporate interests,” explains Cena Swisher of the group, Common Sense. “Why are policymakers asking taxpayers to give more of their hard-earned dollars to industries that are seeing record profits?” The report was released just before Republicans in the Senate introduced the National Energy Security Act of 2001. Supported by the Bush Administration, that bill is a wish list for the nation’s largest polluting industries, claims the report. “If enacted, the bill would give new handouts to the oil, coal, gas and nuclear power industries to destroy our natural resources,” it says. “The bill would deepen our dependence on fossil fuels, worsen air quality, exacerbate global warming and degrade national treasures like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and western lands — all at taxpayer expense.” “We’ve already poured billions of dollars into the pockets of mature energy industries at the expense of clean air and a healthy environment,” says Lexi Shultz of U.S. PIRG. “It’s time we stopped wasting taxpayer money on dirty, ineffective coal, oil and nuclear programs.” In the past seven years, the Green Scissors campaign claims credit for encouraging government cuts of $24 billion in wasteful, environmentally harmful spending programs. The programs that should be cut include U.S. government ‘clean coal’ research, which would save at least $325 million over five years, and the elimination of $242 million to the Export-Import Bank of the US that provides loans for fossil fuel and mining investments.

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