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Trump Slashes Funds for Endangered Species, Environmental Programs

Budget Proposes $8.6 Billion to Build Ecologically Devastating Border Wall

WASHINGTON - The Trump administration’s 2019 budget proposal contains an unprecedented $2 billion (14 percent) cut for the Department of the Interior and a $2.8 billion (31 percent) cut for the Environmental Protection Agency, while adding $8.6 billion for border-wall construction.

“Trump’s budget is a heartless, disgusting joke,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This environmentally devastating proposal shows Trump’s government is composed only of special interests, run by special interests, for the benefit of special interests. It would allow imperiled animals to go extinct and ram a massive border wall through some of America’s most beautiful wild places.”

Funding to add wildlife and plants to the endangered species list would be cut by nearly 50 percent to just $11 million per year, while the Fish and Wildlife Service would see an overall cut of $267 million or 16 percent below the 2019 funding levels.

Last month more than 215 groups urged Congress to increase the budget for endangered species conservation from about $252 million to $486 million. This increase would ensure that every endangered species received a baseline level of funding for its recovery and address the backlog of 500 species that still need a review of whether they should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Congress only provides approximately 3.5 percent of the funding that the Fish and Wildlife Service’s own scientists estimate is needed to recover species, according to a report on endangered species recovery spending. Roughly 1 in 4 species receives less than $10,000 a year toward recovery.

“The Endangered Species Act remains the world’s most effective law at stopping extinction, but the administration’s budget would stop conservation scientists from saving wildlife on the brink,” said Hartl.

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The sweeping EPA cuts will decimate virtually every program designed to protect human health and the environment. Even before these proposed cuts, the EPA’s programs for setting air- and water-quality standards, regulating the use of toxic pesticides, and cleaning up Superfund sites were decades behind schedule. 

“The EPA’s scandalous behavior in ignoring the threat of PFAS and other toxic chemicals in our environment will simply be par for the course if this budget were enacted,” said Hartl. “Rather than massive cuts, we should dramatically increase EPA funding to protect human health and wildlife from all forms of toxic pollution.”

Despite never asking for $8.6 billion in any of its previous budget proposals, the Trump administration is now requesting far more money to construct a wall. This mirrors the amount that may be spent as a result of Trump’s emergency declaration.

Construction of the wall would have far-reaching consequences for wildlife. According to a recent study, Trump’s border wall would threaten at least 93 endangered and threatened species, including jaguars, ocelots and Mexican gray wolves.

“Trump’s border-wall proposal is just as fantastical and out of touch with reality as his nonsense emergency declaration,” Hartl said. “Based on this ludicrous aspect alone, the best use of the Trump budget is to use it as composting material in your garden.”

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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