Taxpayer And Environmental Groups Target 78 Pork-Barrel Programs
Washington, D.C. - With the return of budget deficits and the annual political war over the budget bills set to start today, a coalition of taxpayer, environmental and consumer groups identified 78 cuts which Congress and the administration could make to protect the environment, and save our nation more than $54 billion.
"Taxpayers are underwriting billions of dollars in environmental destruction," said Erich Pica, Director of the Green Scissors Campaign at Friends of the Earth. "Congress and the administration should take Green Scissors to the federal budget and eliminate $54 billion in wasteful and environmentally harmful spending."
The Green Scissors 2002 report reveals 78 common sense recommendations to cut environmentally harmful programs that benefit narrow special interests at considerable taxpayer expense. Many of the projects highlighted are products of pork barrel spending for parochial interests.
"As lawmakers fiddle, special interests are burning billion dollar holes in the federal budget," said Cena Swisher, Senior Program Director at Taxpayers for Common Sense. "If Congress gets serious about cutting spending, a balanced budget will become a reality."
Budget battles are almost guaranteed for the months to come, and the administration and Congress will have to make common sense choices when it comes to federal spending. The $5.6 trillion federal surplus that was forecast at the start of 2001 has nearly evaporated, and rather than continuing down the path of no return, the groups urged lawmakers to exercise fiscal discipline.
"Washington politicians keep wasting our tax dollars to reward corporate polluters," said Pierre Sadik, a staff attorney for U.S. PIRG. "Polluter subsidies must end -- because Americans are paying with their tax dollars and their health."
The Green Scissors 2002 report targets 10 "Choice Cuts" and highlights six issues that are new to the report. The report's "Choice Cuts" are programs that Congress will probably act upon in the coming year or that are most in need of reform. Green Scissors 2002'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 $519 million over five years.
· Beach Renourishment-Increasing the local cost-share for communities benefiting from the Army Corps of Engineers sand pumping activities would save $3 billion over the lifetime of the projects.
· Bonneville Power Administration Borrowing Authority-Congress should reject Bonneville Power's request to increase its federal borrowing authority by $700 million.
· "Clean Coal" Programs-Expediting the termination of the existing "Clean Coal" Technology Program and stopping new programs from beginning would save taxpayers $253 million.
· Indianapolis-to-Evansville (I-69) Highway-Blocking federal funding for this road could save taxpayers $910 million.
· Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency-Eliminating government subsidies for environmentally destructive projects overseas would save taxpayers $11 million.
· Nuclear Energy Research and Development-Eliminating research and development subsidies for the nuclear power industry would save taxpayers $252 million over five years.
· Petroleum Research and Development- Eliminating the petroleum and coal research programs, which benefit large, profitable fossil fuel companies, would save almost $1.3 billion over five years and reduce subsidies that encourage global warming.
· Timber Roads Construction- Cutting funding for construction, planning and design on new logging roads, saving taxpayers $311.5 million.
· Yucca Mountain High-Level Waste Facility-Shelving the Yucca Mountain Project would relieve taxpayers from subsidizing this $56 billion program.
Recommendations that are new to the Green Scissors 2002 report this year include:
· Dallas Floodway Extension-Denying funding for this project, which will fail to improve flood protection for Dallas, would save taxpayers $76 million.
· Grand Prairie Area Demonstration Project- Deauthorizing this outdated irrigation project would save taxpayers $319 million.
· Individual Fishing Quotas-Adopting national standards on new quota programs could prevent the give-away of $15 billion worth of fisheries as well as protect against over-fishing.
· Savannah Harbor Expansion-Denying funding for this redundant and environmentally destructive harbor deepening project would save taxpayers $230 million.
· Superfund Reauthorization-Reauthorizing the Superfund tax would eliminate a $4 million-per-day tax break and ensure that toxic waste sites are cleaned up at the expense of the polluters-not taxpayers.
· Wildfire Management-- Each year, the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and other federal land management agencies spend hundreds of millions of dollars to extinguish wildfires. Better management of the programs would ensure that taxpayer expenditures on wildfire management are maximized.
Local Green Scissors coalition members are releasing the report in more than 20 states. These groups provide support for the Green Scissors Campaign throughout the year. For a copy of the report, contact Erich Pica at 202 783.7400 x229.
Friends of the Earth is a national environmental advocacy organization with member groups in 66 countries. Contact: Mark Helm, FoE 202 783.7400 x102 http://www.FOE.org
U.S. PIRG is the national lobby office for the State Public Interest Research Groups. State PIRGs are non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy groups. Contact: Liz Hitchcock, U.S. PIRG 202 546.9707 x316 http://www.USPIRG.org
Taxpayers for Common Sense is a non-partisan advocate for American taxpayers. TCS is dedicated to cutting wasteful spending and subsidies in order to achieve a responsible and efficient government that lives within its means. Contact: Keith Ashdown, TCS 202 546.8500 x108 http://www.Taxpayer.net