When President Barack Obama unveiled his proposed fiscal budget for the year 2016, not only did he request billions in funding for clean energy development and incentives, but he also set aside $1.947 billion for the funding of NASA’s Earth Science program. This program is key, because it provides valuable data on climate change through the use of orbiting satellites. But Republicans are pushing forward a bill from the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology that will to eviscerate this program, removing between $300 million and $500 million in funding, and making yet another clear swipe at the government-funded study of global warming.
The budget cuts—which were approved in a by-party-line vote in the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology on April 30—specifically maintain funding for Orion and the Space Launch System, but massively reduce the financing for the study of climate change. As NASA administrator Charles Bolden explained in a statement, the budget cuts would “gut our Earth science program and threatens to set back generations worth of progress in better understanding our changing climate, and our ability to prepare for and respond to earthquakes, droughts, and storm events.” That’s a pretty serious problem.
Moreover, the LA Times reports that the Committee’s Democrats were kept in the dark about the bill: “According to Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), the committee’s ranking Democrat, her caucus “did not even know [the markup] existed before last Friday. … After we saw the bill, we understood why.” As outrageous as these moves are, they are perhaps not so much of a surprise. As Phil Platt writes at Slate, “Republicans in the House and Senate don’t want NASA studying Earth, because they think (or say) that global warming isn’t real, or isn’t a problem, or whatever talking point they’ve been told to use this week.”
Rep. Edwards (D-MD) put forward an amendment to restore the NASA budget, but was voted down along party lines. The bill will now move forward to the House floor for a vote, where if it passes we will see more substantial damage—done in the name of politics—to our capacity to understand and address present and future effects of climate change.
Via Daily Kos
Images via NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Flickr