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Green Scissors 2012: Cutting Wasteful and Environmentally Harmful Spending

Posted by Content Coordinator on Tuesday, June 26th, 2012



For more than 18 years the Green Scissors campaign has been a collaboration between budget and environmental groups aimed at eliminating wasteful spending that is harmful to the environment. This year’s report is a collaboration between environmental organization Friends of the Earth, budget watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense, and free-market think tank R Street. While each group comes to the Green Scissors project with a unique mission, a diverse constituency, and different opinions on the role of government, we join together around one shared goal: exposing and eliminating wasteful and environmentally harmful spending.

Green Scissors is a consensus document; all of our groups believe making the cuts contained in this report would be beneficial, although we see them as only part of the solution. Making the cuts highlighted in Green Scissors 2012 would be an important first step to ending environmentally harmful spending, but even more could and should be done.

In mid-2012, as this report goes to press, its message is particularly urgent. Before the end of the year, enormous annual deficits, a giant federal debt, automatic budget cuts and the expiration of many tax cuts will require Congress to make difficult decisions on taxes and spending. And all sides concede that spending in some areas must be cut. Although certain constituencies will obviously be worse off after any set of cuts, the partners on this report all strongly believe that the cuts in this report will make the country as a whole better off. As such, they should be considered the low-hanging fruit for policymakers looking to pull the United States back from the brink of a fiscal precipice.

This year’s report details more than $750 billion in cuts from five different areas: energy, federal insurance, agriculture, transportation, and lands and water. Wasteful and environmentally harmful government spending comes in many different forms, including discretionary programs, mandatory programs such as commodity crop payments, tax expenditures, below-market giveaways of public resources, preferential government financing such as loan guarantees, and risk reduction through government insurance and liability caps. What these subsidies all have in common is that they damage the environment while providing a benefit to one class not available to others.

Download full report (PDF): Green Scissors 2012: Cutting Wasteful and Environmentally Harmful Spending

About Friends of the Earth
“Friends of the Earth strives for a more healthy and just world. We understand that the challenges facing our planet call for more than half measures, so we push for the reforms that are needed, not merely the ones that are politically easy. Sometimes, this involves speaking uncomfortable truths to power and demanding more than people think is possible. It’s hard work. But the pressures facing our planet and its people are too important for us to compromise.

We are members of Friends of the Earth International, a global network representing more than two million activists in 76 different countries. In the United States, we advocate in the halls of Congress, in state capitals, and with community groups around the country. With offices in Washington, DC and San Francisco, and members in all 50 states, we urge policymakers to defend the environment and work towards a healthy environment for all people.”

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