Malloy Joins Wesleyan's Yohe To Oppose Cuts To Environmental Programs

Malloy, Nobel Prize Winner Question Environmental Cuts

Nobel laureate Gary Yohe, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his groundbreaking research on climate change, joined Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to speak out Wednesday against major cuts to environmental programs proposed by President Donald Trump.

Yohe, a longtime professor at Wesleyan University in Middletown, said he has been conducting climate research since 1982 — long before it was on the public radar screen.

"As a scholar with more than three decades of experience studying climate change, I fear our new president is on a course to reverse this progress with extremely dangerous consequences,'' Yohe said.

Yohe worked as a senior member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the Nobel prize with former Vice President Al Gore.

Malloy, Yohe and others gathered on the top floor of the Connecticut Science Center Wednesday to blast the proposed cuts of about $2.6 billion in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's $8.3 billion budget. The cuts would eliminate about 3,200 federal jobs from an agency that now has 15,000 positions.

The setting was appropriate, said Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee, because "science itself is under attack in the federal budget.''

With mounting opposition from environmental groups and Democrats in Congress, Malloy predicted that Trump's original proposal will be changed before the federal fiscal year starts on October 1.

"I don't think the department will see a 31 percent cut in its budget when everything is said and done,'' Malloy said told reporters.

The problems with air and water pollution accumulate over time and can have long-lasting impacts, officials said.

"This is absolutely an attack on future generations — those yet unborn who will suffer the consequences,'' Malloy said. "We will remain diligent, at least while the commissioner and I are around, but we won't apparently have that strong federal partnership'' in the future.

Funding for climate science is also facing cuts at the Department of Energy, NASA, the State Department and the Department of Commerce,Yohe said. He said that gains had been made during the administration of President Barack Obama, where Yohe worked in an unpaid position as the vice chairman of the Third National Climate Assessment.

"By way of stark contrast, President Trump does not even have a science adviser,'' Yohe said. "His administration has attacked climate science, and it has announced its intention to abandon any initiative designed to ameliorate climate risk in any way.''

Some Trump supporters have questioned climate change, including Scott Pruitt, the nation's top environmental official.

"I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see," Pruitt said in a television interview two weeks ago. "But we don't know that yet. We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis."

But Yohe, who studied under economist William D. Nordhaus at Yale University, said Wednesday that there is no debate about the science.

"I am convinced that it is irresponsible and immoral for the elected and appointed leaders of our country to dismiss the science that has produced undeniable evidence describing those risks and their human sources — evidence from observations of climate that have already occurred across the country and around the world and from what we have robustly projected for the future,'' Yohe said.

He added that environmental groups would probably file lawsuits to block various actions on the environment.

"Mr. Trump might be facing a lot of time in court,'' Yohe told The Courant.

In releasing the budget, the Trump administration said that the spending plan "reflects the success of environmental protection efforts, a focus on core legal requirements, the important role of the states in implementing the nation's environmental laws, and the president's priority to ease the burden of unnecessary federal regulations that impose significant costs for workers and consumers without justifiable environmental benefits."

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