Proposed Interior Dept. Budget Targets Public Lands, Climate Science | KUNR

Proposed Interior Dept. Budget Targets Public Lands, Climate Science

Feb 12, 2020

President Donald Trump unveiled his budget proposal Monday, and a significant cut to the Department of Interior is on the table.

The Trump administration wants to cut funding for all but one agency within the Interior, for a 16% overall reduction.

The National Park Service would see its budget slashed by more than a half billion dollars, wiping out nearly 1,000 jobs. The proposal also cuts almost all discretionary spending under the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Aaron Weiss of the Center for Western Priorities, a nonprofit conservation advocacy organization, said he’s most concerned with shrinking the U.S. Geological Survey’s budget by nearly $300 million.

“USGS is at the forefront of climate science,” Weiss said. “They’re the ones we depend on to help America understand how climate change is affecting our lands and waters.”

Weiss said the administration is changing the way appropriations are organized within USGS. He fears that moving money around will effectively reduce the number of climate scientists on the payroll. President Trump’s proposal calls for 827 job cuts across the agency.

According to the Department of Interior’s own summary, the budget proposal prioritizes addressing wildfires, investing in energy development and expanding public access to outdoor recreation, among others.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center For the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.