Friday Action Item: Tell Congress to protect environmental science funding

“Mary Workman Holds A Jar of Undrinkable Water That Comes from Her Well, and Has Filed A Damage Suit Against the Hanna Coal Company.” — a photo taken by Erik Calonius as part of an early EPA project to document the country before modern environmental regulations took effect, highlighted by the Discover EPA Twitter feed. (Flickr: US National Archives)

On Fridays while the current administration is in office we’re posting small, concrete things you can do to help make things better. Got a suggestion for an Action Item? E-mail us!

In the last week, supporters of science have seen some of our worst fears about the election of Donald Trump become a lot more concrete. The Trump administration released a budget outline proposing to boost military spending by $54 billion, paid for by cuts to virtually every other element of discretionary domestic spending. Specifics are still trickling out, but they already include big proposed cuts to crucial scientific work.

Under the proposals seen so far, the climate- and weather-monitoring National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will lose 17% of its budget, including to its satellite network. There’s also proposed cuts accounting for up to 30% of the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency, including thousands of staff jobs, air and water monitoring, research funding, and education. Thursday a twenty-four-year veteran EPA administrator, who helped start the agency’s environmental justice work under the President Bush, resigned in protest over the proposed elimination of that program.

The good news, for now, is that all of this is proposed — it has to go through Congress, and Congress is already raising objections. So this is a great time to call up your Representative and Senators and tell them how you feel about the loss of research funding, environmental monitoring, and protection against pollution. A lot of the points you might have used to protest the earlier freeze on EPA research funding will apply here:

  • Call a local office if you can, rather than Washington, DC and identify yourself as a constituent.
  • If you’re a scientist, say so, and if your research relies on EPA or NOAA funding or data, say that too.
  • Identify work by the agencies that impacts your local community, which could be anything from environmental cleanup to hurricane monitoring.

As ever, calling a Member of Congress is helpful even if you think you already know the Member’s position. If they’re on the wrong side, it’s good for them to hear directly from constituents who disagree. It does make a difference.

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About Jeremy Yoder

Jeremy Yoder is a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences at the University of British Columbia. He also blogs at Denim and Tweed, and tweets under the handle @jbyoder.
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