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Trump’s proposed science budget tackles the opioid epidemic but shuns the environment

President Donald Trumps proposed budget for fiscal year 2019 is once again trying to gut the Environmental Protection Agency, while pouring billions of dollars to combat the opioid epidemic. The budget proposal would allocate $13 billion to combat an opioid crisis thats sweeping the US. (Its a serious crisis; opioids are killing so many people that life expectancy is going down in the US.) But overall, the Department of Health and Human Services is getting a 21 percent cut from 2017 levels. The budget also offers more funding for combating infectious diseases, though it cuts $236 billion in Medicare spending. In many ways, its a stronger science budget than last year, according to Matt Hourihan, who runs the Budget and Policy Program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Environmental research is being hit the hardest, but the big agencies like the National Institutes of Health and NASA are protected. Obviously a much stronger #science budget than last year's. Here is the FY19 request alongside last year's budget so you can see the differences and similarities. Todays request isnt set in stone. A lot of presidents budgets are ignored. But I would expect this one to be completely irrelevant and totally ignored, Jason Furman, a top economic adviser to President Barack Obama, told The Associated Press. In fact, Congress passed a law last week that basically undid the budget before it was even submitted. That said, the budget serves as a look into the presidents priorities. Here are highlights for how Trumps proposed budget would affect health and the environment: The budget suggests allocating $13 billion in new spending to fight opioid abuse, meaning $3 billion in 2018 and $10 billion the next year. Its an acknowledgment of the opioid epidemic that Trump declared a public health emergency back in October. This money will go toward expanding coverage of medication-assisted treatment and helping states monitor and track clinics that prescribe a high number of opioids. The budget also proposes spending $40 million on a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initiative to eliminate infectious diseases. However, it proposes eliminating $451 million in health training programs that lack evidence that they improve the health workforce, as well as cuts of $236 billion in Medicare spending. The proposal suggests a budget of $29 billion for the Department of Energy, about 3 percent lower than 2017 levels. It also proposes reducing funding for a loan program that supports clean energy projects, and research programs that support creating high-tech vehicles and more efficient vehicles. The budget suggests entirely eliminating the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E), a well-known agency that funds energy-related research projects that focus on, among other things, efficient heating and plant-based fuels. The Trump administration is requesting $5.4 billion for the EPA — a 34 percent cut from the 2017 enacted budget. That includes steep cuts to the grants the EPA provides to states to help implement environmental regulations like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. The administration also wants to cut the funds used by the EPA to clean toxic Superfund sites by 30 percent, to encourage private investment in cleanup activities. The budget request also calls for the elimination of climate change and marine pollution programs, which the administration calls lower priority. The budget suggests eliminating lower priority NOAA programs such as the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund dedicated to saving salmon; the Coastal Zone Management Grants, which addresses issues like climate change and ocean planning; the Office of Education; and the Sea Grant, which supports research into lakes and oceans. Despite a record hurricane season in 2017, the budget proposes cutting funding for the National Flood Insurance Programs Flood Hazard Mapping Program. The program, part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, maintains flood maps and communicates flood risks to local residents. Trumps budget plans to end direct funding for the International Space Station by 2025, while instructing NASA to focus on sending astronauts back to the Moon by the mid-2020s. Although NASAs budget would increase to $19.892 billion, from $19.519 billion in 2018, very little money is provided for all of the hardware needed for a lunar mission. The budget request also slashes Earth Science research, and eliminates NASAs Education program, which funds grants and scholarship programs for students. The budget would also eliminate the WFIRST mission, which includes the development of a new space-based telescope to study dark energy and planets that reside outside our Solar System.

Trump’s budget proposal is out and he really wants to kill ARPA-E

Nuclear is the big winner in FY 2019's proposed budget. On Monday afternoon, the Trump Administration released a budget proposal (PDF), including new figures for the Department of Energy (DOE). This budget proposal is just an opening salvo—Congress must approve the budget before it takes effect, and without a doubt there will be negotiations over the details. This year's suggested changes to the DOE budget track the ones found in the presidents first budget proposal in 2017. Notably, the proposed budget yet again eliminates the popular Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy (or ARPA-E) program, which has funded early-stage energy research through a federal grant program for years. The main text of budget proposal says the DOE ought to receive $29 billion, down from about $30.1 billion, but an addendum text adds another $1.533 billion to the DOE budget, which would reflect a budget increase of about $500 million over what the DOE received in 2017. However, despite a relatively stagnant budget for the DOE, renewable energy programs will be cut dramatically beyond the elimination of ARPA-E. Under the plan, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy sees its budget cut from around $2 billion to $696 million (PDF). ARPA-E was slated for elimination in Trumps budget proposal last year, but Congress ended up allotting the energy projects incubator $15 million more than it was initially supposed to receive. The program provides grants to early-stage energy-related startups in every state, so red states and blue states alike benefit. ARPA-E has successfully funded not just renewable energy programs, but it also funds energy efficiency research and vehicle fuel research. But this year the Trump Administration is trying to kill it again, eliminating the entirety of the programs $305 million from the DOEs budget. In a document detailing the elimination (PDF), the administration writes: there has been concern about the potential for ARPA-E's efforts to overlap with Research & Development (R&D) being carried out, or which should be carried out, by the private sector. (On the contrary, ARPA-E's directive is to fund technology that is uniquely too early in its development for private sector funding.) The document goes on to say that the Energy Department should redirect any unobligated balances in ARPA-Es coffers, and transfer any remaining contracts elsewhere in the DOE, to ensure full closure of ARPA-E by mid-2020.Other programs that the Trump Administration wants to kill include the Title XVII Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program, which provides loan guarantees for clean energy programs; the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program, which admittedly has not provided a new loan since 2011; and the Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Program (PDF), which works on "tribal energy sufficiency." The administration says all those programs can be managed by the private sector. Even if the Administration is able to kill ARPA-E, there's still money set aside for federally-funded research. The $1.5 billion addendum allocates $1.2 billion to fundamental scientific research pertaining to Americas energy future, although details on that are slim. Other items in that addendum include an additional $200 million for Fossil Energy Research and Development to fund research and development (R&D) of clean coal technologies, on top of the $300 million R&D budget that the Office of Fossil Energy would already receive through the proposed budget. A mere $120 million of the addendum's dollars would be definitively dedicated to sustainable transportation, renewable energy, and energy efficiency technologies including energy storage, renewable generation, smart buildings, and electric vehicles. The Department of Energy is responsible for the nations nuclear stockpile, and a lot of the funding would go to maintaining and upgrading that. The Budget makes significant investments in design and construction of facilities, with an emphasis on infrastructure related to strategic materials (e.g., uranium, plutonium, tritium, lithium) that are critical to the nuclear weapons stockpile, the proposal notes. It also includes funding for efforts to remove nuclear materials from insecure areas around the world and helping countries develop strong programs to secure those that remain. Additionally, $445 million will be dedicated to exascale computing and $105 million will be dedicated to quantum computing advancements. $757 million will be dedicated to advancing nuclear energy, prioritizing support for early-stage R&D on advanced reactor technologies, including small modular reactors, and advanced instrumentation and manufacturing methods. The proposed budget also will include money to find an interim storage program for nuclear waste while the administration pushes forward with the licensing of Nevadas Yucca Mountain geologic repository, which has been proposed as a long-term storage site. New Mexico's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) , which houses nuclear waste from weapons development, is also funded through the DOE. Finally, about $180 million of the DOE budget would be dedicated to grid modernization a joint effort funded by the Office of Electricity Delivery, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and the new Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response.