What the Federal Budget Means for Wildlife: Climate Change

Each year the President sends Congress a proposed budget outlining his priorities for the country. President Trump’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget request included unprecedented cuts to conservation funding. We oppose these proposed cuts and call on Congress to ensure funding for wildlife and conservation. This blog is part of a series outlining why such drastic federal budget cuts would intensify America’s wildlife crisis.

The President’s budget proposal urges a dramatic reduction in funding to combat the threats of climate change. Vital programs that protect air quality, advance clean energy, and prepare for climate threats would lose funding. Rather than adopting the proposed cuts, Congress should provide these initiatives with the funding needed to protect wildlife from increasingly volatile, costly, and damaging climate change.

Many wildlife species are already threatened by climate change. Greenhouse gas pollution from power plants, vehicles, and some types of land use are the biggest contributors to the problem. This pollution is not only warming the earth, but causing more extreme weather. Events like severe droughts, wildfires, sea-level rise, and greater pest and disease problems alter the food web, wildlife health, and migration patterns.

Fortunately, funding for climate solutions cuts this pollution and  improves the resilience of wildlife habitat.

Moose at Upper Twin Lake, Idaho. Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Diane Higdem.
Moose at Upper Twin Lake, Idaho. Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Diane Higdem.

Sadly, the myth that cutting environmental laws and enforcement will protect the U.S. economy has been revived. The President’s budget proposal calls for cuts to climate pollution programs, scientific research, and grants.

Mick Mulvaney, White House budget director, said the decision to eliminate climate funding fulfills a campaign promise:

“I think the president was pretty straightforward: We’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that a waste of your money to go out and do that, so that is a specific tie to his campaign.”

The President has also stated that what the EPA does is a “disgrace” and that he only intends to leave “a little bit” of the environment for protection. The White House aims to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from climate change research, regulatory programs, advanced energy research and development, state assistance, and international aid and cooperation.

This view and these actions will hurt wildlife and the outdoor economy.

Warming waters from climate change harm cold-water fish like trout. Photo by USFWS
Warming waters from climate change harm cold-water fish like trout. Photo by USFWS

For example, these cuts will stall help for declining moose populations in the Northeast and threatened pika in the West. Plus, the budget ominously declares that EPA’s air pollution work should be “reoriented” to relieve burdens on the economy, cutting state grants for air monitoring and pollution control that protect wildlife and human health.

While the budget proposal is short on specifics, some programs are singled out for elimination:

American Pika
The pika may be one of the first mammals in California to become extinct due to global warming.

The budget would also eliminate a flood hazard mapping program and other disaster mitigation programs. These programs protect wildlife like the loggerhead sea turtle from sea-level rise and increasingly severe flooding events.

These cuts, if enacted, would hurt efforts to reduce climate pollution by:

  • canceling carbon standards that reduce pollution and spur innovation
  • impairing states’ ability to implement clean energy goals and protect people and wildlife from climate impacts and air pollution
  • burying scientific research and stalling innovation in climate solutions that create jobs and cut pollution
  • severely damaging our leadership status and market advantage across the globe

Congress, states, companies, and individuals must continue to advance our clean energy future. Without strong federal funding for these climate initiatives, wildlife, habitat, and human health will pay the price.


MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD: Tell Congress you oppose the White House’s proposed cuts to the climate budget. Ask them to ensure robust funding for wildlife and conservation!

Take ActionTell your Members of Congress: Don’t Let Drastic Budget Cuts Devastate Wildlife

Published: March 28, 2017