The official charged overseeing the country’s budget called climate change research “a waste of your money.”

Image: michael REYNOLDS/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

If you thought President Donald Trump might be softening his views on climate change since taking office, think again.

At Thursday’s White House press briefing, a Trump official declared climate change initiatives “a waste of your money.” As in, the single-greatest threat to life on Earth as we know it isn’t worth spending a dime.

Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, was outlining Trump’s budget proposal, which would add $54 billion in defense spending while gutting billions of dollars from other agencies. 

The blueprint is far from a done deal, and Congress will have the final say on the federal budget. But it makes painfully clear what the Trump administration’s priorities are: more walls and weapons, less work to avoid dangerous global warming.

“Regarding the question as to climate change, I think the president was fairly straightforward,” Mulvaney told reporters at the briefing. “We’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money.”

Yes, he actually said that. Just watch:

Nearly all of the world’s Earth scientists agree that climate change is happening, and that human activity is primarily to blame. Burning fossil fuels, clearing forests and eating inordinate amounts of meat increases greenhouse gas emissions, which then trap the sun’s heat and disrupt the planet’s climate systems.

As a result, rising seas are eating away at coastlines and drowning island nations. Chronic droughts and punishing monsoons are threatening the food supplies of billions of people. Air and water pollution are both made worse by global warming. 

Trump’s budget proposal slashes $100 million from climate change programs within just the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with gutting more funding marked for climate change research and programs in other spheres of government.

The EPA — which would lose about $2.6 billion according to the budget blueprint — would halt much of its work to research climate impacts and limit emissions. The blueprint cuts any funding to enforce the Clean Power Plan, which requires states to reduce carbon emissions and is the cornerstone of America’s pledge to cut emissions under the Paris Climate Agreement.

Trump also wants to cut some of NASA’s Earth-monitoring programs, which provide essential data on the planet’s changing climate. At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, gone is the Sea Grant program to help coastal communities adapt to rising sea levels and more extreme weather events. 

If Trump gets his way, a handful of key Energy Department programs to accelerate clean energy and electric cars will completely vanish. 

If Trump gets his way, a handful of key Energy Department programs to accelerate clean energy and electric cars will completely vanish. 

The State Department also takes a hit in Trump’s budget proposal — and it’s not because the president wants less diplomacy. Rather, the department and its $10 billion foreign aid budget are losing money because of its efforts to protect the environment.

“It just so happens that much of the foreign aid that the president talked about in campaign — much of the money that goes to climate research, green energy, that sort of thing — are actually in the State Department budget,” Mulvaney said.

“If those line items had been in the department of commerce, you would see the Department of Commerce go down by a similarly large percentage,” he added.

Erasing taxpayer funding from multiple agencies to address climate change makes it more clear than ever how Trump feels about environmental protection.

“You now have an America first president, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone we have an ‘America First’ budget,” Mulvaney said.

“America First,” in Trump’s eyes, seems interchangeable with “Earth Last.”

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