Green Scissors 2011

This report from a coalition of environmental and conservative groups identfies $380 billion in wasteful government spending that also harms the environment, and lays out specific areas to make drastic cuts to improve the economy and the environment.

From the introduction to the report:

Wasteful government spending comes in many different forms. The most obvious are direct spending on discretionary programs and mandatory programs such as commodity crop payments. Slightly less transparent are tax expenditures, privileges written into the tax code, or below market giveaways of government resources like timber and hardrock minerals. Even more opaque is preferential government financing for harmful projects through bonding loans, long term contracting authority and loan guarantees, and risk reduction through government insurance and liability caps.


Some subsidies are difficult to calculate but have enormous costs to taxpayers. For example, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 caps industry liability for offshore drilling accidents at a paltry $75 million, but they can cost taxpayers billions of dollars. The cleanup of the Deepwater Horizon spill has already topped $6.8 billion.1 Another example is the cost of lost oil and gas revenues due to low royalty rates and industry underreporting. Despite the difficulty in determining the exact loss or calculating the final price tag, these types of subsidies need to be eliminated as well.

With the federal government facing a $1.65 trillion deficit and $14.6 trillion debt, Green Scissors' agenda is more critical than ever. The nation's deficit and debt have not gone unnoticed by the president, Congress or the public, many of whom have called for fiscal restraint in Washington. In fact, members of both parties are looking for ways to solve our nation's budget crisis. Often programs targeted at conserving our natural resources are the first on the chopping block, but Green Scissors shows us a way to help the environment by spending less.

This year's Green Scissors report offers lawmakers and the public a starting place for spending reductions, including cuts to discretionary, mandatory and tax spending that also increase environmental protection. Perhaps even more importantly, Green Scissors 2011 offers a roadmap for how Congress can bridge the gap between ideologically diverse perspectives to begin moving towards deficit reduction in a productive fashion. Green Scissors 2011 represents the interests of four varied groups: Friends of the Earth, Public Citizen, Taxpayers for Common Sense and The Heartland Institute. While all four groups have different missions, histories, goals and ideas about the role of government, we all agree that we can begin to overcome our nation's budgetary and environmental woes by tackling spending that is not only wasteful, but environmentally harmful.