Unlikely bedfellows uncover nearly $300 billion in common ground

Free-market advocates and environmentalists agree that federal spending which harms the environment has got to go

WASHINGTON – The Green Scissors coalition released a letter today calling on Congress to cut nearly $300 billion in what the group says is both wasteful and environmentally harmful government spending. Although the five groups represented in the coalition come from a wide variety of ideological backgrounds, they have reached a consensus. They all agree that spending programs and tax expenditures that waste money and promote pollution should be cut first to offset the cost of potential infrastructure legislation

Among the billions are $114 billion in energy programs and $166 billion in agriculture programs that are considered by the groups to be environmentally harmful and poor uses of taxpayer money. The letter’s signers include Friends of the Earth U.S., R Street Institute, Taxpayers for Common Sense, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and Environment America, who make up the Green Scissors Coalition.  

“As a coalition of free-market, taxpayer, and environmental groups, we differ vastly in our beliefs on the proper scope of government spending on infrastructure. We are, however, entirely aligned [on] cutting programs and tax expenditures that are harmful to the environment,” the letter reads.  

“When this collection of organizations can all enthusiastically agree on $300 billion worth of infrastructure pay-fors, there is no reason that Congress should still be wasting time on political maneuvers,” said Sarah Lutz, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “Cutting environmentally destructive spending to pay for an investment in our future is a clear first step.”

“When Congress props up practices that harm the environment, taxpayers bear a high penalty for these often cronyist policies,” Nan Swift, R Street Institute governance program fellow, explained. “Taxpayers lose out on revenue, on wasted resources, the toll on their environment, and they are repeatedly asked to pay out yet again for the cost to clean-up or mitigate the effects of these programs. Instead of sticking taxpayers with another outsized price-tag, Congress should first claim much-needed savings from these damaging programs and in doing so, make a real investment in our future.”

“There are a lot of big policy proposals floating around Washington right now and not always easy ways to pay for them,” said Michael Maragos, a Senior Policy Analyst with Taxpayers for Common Sense. “Our database is a veritable smorgasbord of responsible, realistic offsets that save money and help the environment. If lawmakers are serious about paying for their wish lists, tapping these should be a no-brainer.”

“We’re already seeing the effects of  climate change all around us: droughts and wildfires, hurricanes and tornadoes, flooding and heatwaves and deep freezes,” said Matt Casale, U.S. PIRG’s environment campaign director. “It is critical that as Congress moves forward on new infrastructure investments, they must also stop spending taxpayer dollars in ways that are actively making the climate crisis worse.”

“Congress has an opportunity to conserve the environment and conserve taxpayer dollars,” said Lisa Frank, executive director of Environment America’s Washington Legislative Office. “Cutting wasteful, bad-for-the-environment spending is a no-brainer any day, but especially when lawmakers are struggling to figure out how to pay for needed infrastructure investments.”

Green Scissors was founded in 1994 and has continued to fight to make environmental and fiscal responsibility a priority in Washington, D.C. For more than 25 years, the Green Scissors Coalition has been working to eliminate government spending that is both economically wasteful and harmful to the environment and maintains a database of taxpayer funded programs that meet these two conditions.

Communications contact: Kaela Bamberger, 202-222-0703, [email protected]   

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