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Today's Top News
House Republicans Cut Funding to Nobel Prize-Winning UN Climate Science Body
Funding ban to IPCC part of cuts package that would slash spending on environmental protection
America is to cut off all funding to the United Nations climate science panel under sweeping Republican budget cuts that seek to gut spending on environmental protection.
The funding ban to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – stripping $2.3m (£1.31m) from an international organisation that relies heavily on volunteer scientists – was among some $61bn (£38bn) in cuts voted through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives on Saturday.
If enacted, the cuts package would reduce spending on environmental protection by nearly one-third, or about $3bn (£1.85bn), advancing a key objective of the conservative Tea Party of dismantling government regulation.
The cuts also exhibit the strong hostility to climate science among the Tea Party activists with funding bans on the IPCC and a newly created climate information service under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – a reorganisation which was to be funded out of existing budgets.
The weekend budget measure was designed to fund the government through to September. But the White House and Senate Democrats say the cuts – which go far deeper than those put forward by Barack Obama last week – are extreme, setting the stage for a confrontation between Democrats and Republicans.
In proposing the ban on IPCC funding, Blaine Luetkemeyer, a Missouri Republican, called the UN panel "nefarious".
"The IPCC is an entity that is fraught with waste and fraud, and engaged in dubious science, which is the last thing hard-working American taxpayers should be paying for," Luetkemeyer said in a statement.
He claimed the US funds to the IPCC were $13m, but Henry Waxman, the California Democrat, told Congress the figure was $2.3m. He argued that the contribution helped the US get access to global scientific body of work – that would not exist without American support.
Chris Field, a Stanford scientist who heads one of the IPCC working groups, said US funds to the IPCC were about $3m last year. Field said: "It's a real tragedy that the issue is so poorly understood that it doesn't have the support I think it deserves given how important it is."
Overall, the bill would cut 29% from the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) budget, or nearly $3bn (£1.85bn). In addition, it contains more than 15 separate measures that were tacked on to the bill that will block funds for specific environmental programmes. Several of those funding vetoes involve the EPA's recent moves to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
The measures would cut $8.4m in funds to the EPA's greenhouse gas registry. They would also prohibit the EPA from using any funds to enforce emissions rules on power plants and cement manufacturers, or from increasing the use of ethanol.
But they would also block the EPA and other government agencies from using funds to enforce regulations on the highly destructive method of coal mining, mountaintop removal. Other measures block funds for enforcing air quality standards, including mercury emissions from cement kilns.
There were bans on funds for protection of fragile rivers in Florida and Missouri, and for enacting a protection plan for the Chesapeake Bay.
Even the White House was not left unscathed. The spending package would cut funds for the White House climate change advisor. Carol Browner, the current adviser, recently announced her resignation.