Taxpayer and Environmental Groups Target 74 Pork Barrel Programs
GREEN SCISSORS 2001 EXPOSES $55 BILLION IN WASTEFUL FEDERAL SPENDING THAT HARMS THE ENVIRONMENT
Below is a news announcement from the Green Scissors Coalition (Friends of the Earth, Taxpayers for Common Sense, U.S. Public Interest Research Group).
As the Bush Administration prepares to make tough choices on spending and tax cuts with the release of its budget, a coalition of environmental, taxpayer and consumer groups has released a new report detailing 74 federal programs whose elimination could protect the environment and save taxpayers $55 billion.
"President Bush wants to give taxpayers a break-well, here's a $55 billion start that also protects the environment, " said Erich Pica, Director of the Green Scissors Campaign at Friends of the Earth. "This is the President's opportunity to cut the federal budget using green scissors."
The Green Scissors 2001 report, endorsed by more than 24 organizations, highlights programs that taxpayer, environmental and consumer organizations agree should be cut. Green Scissors 2001 targets ten "Choice Cuts" which 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," said Cena Swisher, Program Director at Taxpayers for Common Sense. "Why are policymakers asking taxpayers to give more of their hard-earned dollars to industries that are seeing record profits?"
Senate Republicans are planning to introduce the National Energy Security Act of 2001 in the next two weeks. Supported by the Bush Administration, this bill is a wish list for the nation's largest polluting industries. If enacted, the bill would give new handouts to the oil, coal, gas and nuclear power industries to destroy our natural resources. 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.
Democrats are backing similar legislation. Senator Byrd (D-WV) has already introduced a bill that would expand taxpayer-funded subsidies and provide exemptions from environmental protections for coal facilities.
"We've already poured billions of dollars into the pockets of mature energy industries at the expense of clean air and a healthy environment," said Lexi Shultz, a staff attorney for U.S. PIRG. "It's time we stopped wasting taxpayer money on dirty, ineffective coal, oil and nuclear programs."
Over the past seven years, the Green Scissors campaign has cut $24 billion in wasteful, environmentally harmful spending programs. In 2000, the coalition successfully fought to force the film industry to pay market-based fees on public lands and oil royalty reforms saving taxpayers $330 million over five years.
The Green Scissors 2001 report targets ten "Choice Cuts" and highlights nine issues that are new to the report. The report's "Choice Cuts" are programs that Congress will probably act upon in some way during the coming year or that are most in need of reform. Green Scissors 2001's "Choice Cuts" include:
- 1872 Mining Law Reform -- Requiring hard-rock mining companies to pay an 8 percent royalty and to post adequate bonds for mining reclamation would raise $481 million over five years.
- "Clean Coal" Technology Program -- Expediting the termination of the CCTP by stopping projects for which construction has not started or will not start for several years would save at least $325 million over 5 years.
- Crop Insurance -- Lowering the reimbursement rate to private insurance companies and charging different rates based on varying risks would save taxpayers billions of dollars.
- Low Frequency Active Sonar -- Terminating this U.S. Navy program, which threatens to harm marine mammals in 80 percent of the world's oceans.
- National Ignition Facility -- Canceling this over-budget nuclear weapons project would save taxpayers $10 billion over the lifetime of the project.
- Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles -- Cutting this program would end a research subsidy to the "Big 3" automakers that is encouraging the production of polluting diesel powered vehicles. Eliminating this program would save taxpayers $1.1 billion over 5 years.
- Petroleum Research and Development -- Eliminating the petroleum and diesel research programs, which benefit large, profitable fossil fuel and auto companies, would save $1.6 billion and reduce subsidies that encourage global warming.
- Sugar Program -- Eliminating the sugar import limitations, non-recourse loan program and the taxpayer funded buy-back program would save both taxpayers and consumers hundreds of millions of dollars and help to protect fragile ecosystems like the Everglades.
- Timber Sales -- Requiring the Forest Service to stop subsidizing timber industry clearcuts in our national forests would save $1.65 billion over five years and stop promoting the destruction of our nation's forests.
- Upper Mississippi Lock Expansion -- Denying funding for expansion of the locks on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers would save taxpayers more than $1.2 billion.
Recommendations that are new to the Green Scissors 2001 report this year include:
- Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Navigation -- Decommission an underused waterway running through Alabama, Florida and Georgia, saving taxpayers $100 million over five years.
- Beach Renourishment -- Decrease federal taxpayer-funded subsidies to beachfront communities for beach pumping.
- Calhoun/Claredon Causeway -- Cancel the $75 million causeway being built in South Carolina.
- Delaware River Deepening -- Deny funding for a $224 million dredging project that benefits oil refineries in Philadelphia.
- Export-Import Bank of the US: Fossil Fuel and Mining Investments -- Cut $242 million in subsidies used to make and guarantee loans for fossil fuel and mining investments.
- Land Exchanges -- Prohibits federal land swaps that trade away environmentally important land and undervalue taxpayer assets that have shortchanged taxpayers by millions of dollars.
- Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency -- Eliminate this World Bank agency which provides risk insurance to private corporations and banks, saving $16 million.
- New Orleans Industrial Canal -- Deny funding for this Army Corps of Engineers deepening project saving $532 million over the life of the project.
- Price-Anderson Act -- Repeal the act that caps the amount of liability nuclear power plants have if a nuclear accident occurs.
For more information and a copy of the report, visit www.greenscissors.org
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