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Apr 01 2017
by Diana Pope

How Trump's Policies are Affecting Scientific Progress

By Diana Pope - Apr 01 2017

President Trump's administration is setting a new tone when it comes to issues surrounding environmental and scientific policy. The President has aimed to deregulate key environmental agencies such as the Environmental Policy Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Many environmental advocates are highly concerned that his budget cuts will sharply decrease funding for scientific research projects and cut the national employment of scientists and engineers. However, Trump is still pouring funding into important projects like deep space exploration. If you're confused about the executive agenda with environmental, scientific and medical policy, here's a rundown of what's really occurring in the White House. 

Clean Energy and Manufacturing

Programs that are geared towards innovations in renewable and clean energy are being sharply defunded with the new administration's agenda. The Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency has faced the most severe budget cuts in the past months. This agency is responsible for funding high-risk clean energy technologies; department heads are expecting the organization to lose nearly 51.1% of its funding. In addition, the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Manufacturing Extensions Partnership, which serves the nation's scientific manufacturers, will see its budget drop by nearly 65 million dollars. The Energy Department is also witnessing key budget cuts; the department is bracing for a 17.9% budget cut. Even though the department is losing federal stipends, the Trump administration is still aiming to increase funding for nuclear weapons in the energy sector. 

Coastal and Oceanic Research

Trump is planning to pull $250 million away from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and will eliminate funding in the agency's satellite division. NOAA's satellites are crucial to collecting data on climate change, but the agency is expecting to face difficulties with oceanic monitoring due to these budget cuts. The satellites are responsible for providing information for hurricane warnings, extreme weather preparation, sea-level predictions and weather forecasting. The federal budget cuts are also targeting several research and education initiatives that are essential to coastal community planning. The National Estuarine Research Reserve System, a program that produces scientific data on coastal ecosystems, is planning to cope with heavy budget cuts to important research projects

Environmental Regulations

Trump recently signed a sweeping executive order to dismantle efforts that were made by the Obama Administration to combat climate change. The President aims to rewrite provisions regarding carbon emissions that were part of the "Clean Power Plan." As part of the executive order, Trump plans to remove restrictions on hydraulic fracking and eliminate the National Environmental Policy Act. Many employees at the Environmental Protection Agency are also concerned about the elimination of integral offices within the organization. Trump has proposed scaling back the agency's budget, which will lower the E.P.A.'s budget from $8.1 billion to $5.7 billion in the coming months. 

Space Exploration 

Even though Trump's administration has been making budget cuts to other areas of science, the White House is actually planning to expand deep space exploration efforts. Trump is aiming to make a "rapid and affordable" return to the moon by 2020 and wants to strengthen the private space industry. The President's main goal is to change NASA's organizational structure by pulling in more commercial space partnerships. The White House hopes to facilitate more moon landings and rocket orbits by the year 2020. 

Medical Research

The Trump administration has proposed cutting the National Institute of Health's Budget by 20 percent and wants the organization to eliminate overhead payments to various colleges and universities. Most of the budget cuts to the organization will primarily affect medical research in higher education. However, the Trump administration is calling for reforms to increase funding in other areas of medicine. Most importantly, the White House is aiming to reform the Centers for Disease and Prevention, and will grant $500 million to this agency. The Federal administration is also granting $500 million to the Department of Health and Human Services to "expand opioid misuse prevention efforts and to increase access to treatment and recovery services". 

Overall, the President and his Cabinet are calling for substantial budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, NOAA, NIH and the Energy Department. Trump is working to remove environmental regulations and defund clean energy efforts, so that other areas of the government may gain other federal stipends. Even though the White House is stymying the progress of several key agencies, it is still working to bolster the progress of deep space exploration and disease prevention in the United States. Read this article to learn more about what you personally can do to combat environmental damage.

Lead Image Credit: PROKarl-Ludwig Poggemann via Flickr Creative Commons

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Diana Pope - University of Tennessee Knoxville

Diana is a political science major who also enjoys journalism, history, and philosophy. She loves writing, researching, and debating about politics. In her free time, she enjoys Grey's anatomy marathons and reading detective fiction.

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