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Group Proposes Environmentally Friendly Budget Cuts

A coalition of interest groups is proposing a list of fiscally responsible and environmentally friendly spending cuts that could appeal to members of both parties.

The Green Scissors Coalition, which includes the progressive environmental group Friends of the Earth, non-partisan budget watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense, and free-market think tank R Street Institute, launched a new database identifying nearly 80 spending cuts that would save the federal government about $259 billion over 10 years.

The cuts come from federal energy, agriculture, transportation, insurance, public lands and water programs, and “only those programs that all three coalition members agreed upon were included in the list, guaranteeing its appeal and usefulness to all sides of the debate,” according to a press release.

Ben Schreiber, climate and energy program director for Friends of the Earth, said, “This database will allow campaigners across the political spectrum to pinpoint corporate welfare in the federal budget and mark it for termination,” and pointed out that, “Throwing free money at polluters is a ridiculous waste of resources.”

The vast majority of the savings would come from agriculture and energy programs, with proposed cuts totaling $215 billion over 10 years between them. (RELATED: Bumper Crop Could Cost Taxpayers Billions in Farm Subsidies)

Among the agriculture programs the coalition identified as wasteful was crop insurance, which is projected to cost $47 billion over the next 10 years. Although ostensibly intended to insure farmers against crop loss, most of the subsidies actually go toward insulating farmers from falling prices, the coalition claims.

The most significant energy program cuts identified in the database involve tax credits, rather than direct subsidies. (RELATED: Sen. Mike Lee Pushes Bill to End All Energy Tax Subsidies)

A law allowing companies to deduct a portion of their income from domestic oil and gas production, for instance, is projected to cost more than $17 billion over 10 years, while a separate provision allowing them to deduct the costs of exploration and development is projected to cost another $12 billion over the same period.

The coalition also suggests repealing a 1995 law that allows “the Secretary of the Interior to waive royalty payments for new leases in the outer continental shelf of the Gulf of Mexico,” which they claim would save more than $18 billion between 2015 and 2024.

“With the end of year appropriations battles still waging and a new Congress on the horizon, releasing this information is more important than ever,” said Ryan Alexander, President of Taxpayers for Common Sense, explaining that the database “provides lawmakers of all political stripes an easy way to identify billions in taxpayer savings and help the environment.” (RELATED: Obama Budget Would Permanently Extend Green Energy Handouts)

Eli Lehrer, president of the R Street Institute, added that, “Excessive, wasteful spending not only destroys free markets, it also damages the air we breathe, the open spaces we cherish, and the water we drink,” and urged the incoming Republican majority to “pay attention to ways they can both shrink government and save the Earth.”

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