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Murray Budget Presents Clean Energy Vision, Ryan Budget Guts Environmental Protection

Frances Beinecke

Posted March 14, 2013

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Do you have a favorite beach you like to visit every year? Perhaps you have a beloved national park where you take affordable vacations. Or maybe you like to cook and count on meat and vegetables being inspected for bacteria. Or you have a child with asthma and you want to make sure she can play outside safely—and that her children will too.

If you are one of the hundreds of millions of Americans who rely on environmental and public health protections, then the new House and Senate budget proposals should interest you.

The Senate budget released by Senator Murray presents a clear vision for the future, one that recognizes a healthy environment supports a healthy economy.  Murray’s budget invests in clean energy to create new economic opportunities that reduce pollution. It supports the Environmental Protection Agency’s mission to clean up our air, make our water safe,and protect our families from toxic chemicals. It also recognizes that the cost of inaction on climate change is simply too high to bear. 

The Murray budget would reduce the deficit by making targeted cuts and closing tax loopholes—while expanding environmental and public health protection.  It provides for the future by reserving money for upgrades to our water and transportation infrastructure and creates room in the budget to update our chemical safety laws.

This approach reflects the values of the American public, who want to see a healthier environment for our children, not a future plagued by pollution and devastated by climate change.

In sharp contrast, the House GOP budget released by Representative Paul Ryan on Tuesday would slash funding for programs that keep sewage out of our beaches, contaminants out of our food supply, and pollution out of our skies.

It would make deep cuts in non-military spending—including the funding  allows the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Energy to carry out some of their basic functions. It’s not as if these agencies haven’t already been reduced: the EPA’s budget has been slashed by 25 percent since 2010 and will now experience more than a 5 percent across-the-board sequester reductions on top of that. You can only cut so deep before you hit bone.

House GOP leaders have made no secret of their disdain for environmental protections. They voted more than 300 times to undermine the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and other bedrock laws since 2011. Americans rejected that dirty vision in the 2012 election, but this Ryan budget seeks to resurrect it.

It also tries to keep our country chained to polluting fossil fuels and other outdated energy resources. Representative Ryan’s budget would hand over $40 billion in subsidies to oil companies over the next decade and give the five largest oil companies billions of dollars more in tax cuts by reducing the corporate income tax rate while ending critical tax credits for solar and wind power. It would even sell lands that belong to the American public to benefit private energy companies and defund transit and intercity rail systems  At the same time, it targets funding for research on cleaner energy technologies for especially deep cuts.

If deficit hawks are serious about balancing the budget, they would not give subsidies to the most profitable companies in the world or ignore revenue as part of a sensible negotiation.

The Senate and House budgets offer a clear choice about what kind of world we want our children to inherit: one where families have clean air and water or one where polluting industries hold sway. It’s time for Americans to decide: tell your Senators to support the Murray budget proposal and to oppose amendments that would harm the environment, including attempts to open the pristine Arctic to drilling, expand dirty fuels, or limit the President’s ability to combat climate change.

Budgets are about choices. The choice for our nation is clear.

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Michael BerndtsonMar 15 2013 08:09 AM

Nicely done. I've tried to be a common sense based centrist on environmental protection for over 25 years. If one truly plays the middle, you'll simply end up ticking off everyone. Those in the business of environmental protection and remediation (from garbage collection to policy) are somewhat forced to take a practical and politically neutral approach. Simply so a project can move forward.

As of the past year or two I left the center and moved to the "left" or towards the environmental protection side. The new Republicans are simply not informed on health risk and natural resource management. Frankly Republicans like Ryan and many other (e.g. Rand Paul) are simply not too bright and very lazy. Running a modern industrial society takes creativity, intelligence and hard work. Yes, some Democrats and environmentalists can act like Chicken Littles. And yes, consensus is essential. But these new Republican proposals are simply nihilistic at best and destructive at worst.

Ryan's family money came from construction contracting. Mostly earthwork for site preparation and civil construction. A not insignificant money stream into the family business was landfill remediation on Superfund Cleanups. Little Paul was out west skiing and reading Ayn Rand to find himself in the 1980s and early 1990s - when Superfund was being funded - so maybe he doesn't see there's a connection between stewardship and industrial progress.

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