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Memo to Congressional Super Committee: Taking "Green Scissors" to Budget Would Yield $380 Billion in Savings

Left-right Coalition Identifies Huge Cuts in Wasteful Giveaways that Harm the Environment

WASHINGTON, D.C. — August 24, 2011 — Ending a third of a trillion dollars in environmentally harmful subsidies could go a long way toward solving our nation’s budget challenges, an unusual right-left coalition said today in a groundbreaking report.

The report — “Green Scissors 2011” — provides a roadmap to saving up to $380 billion over five years by curbing wasteful spending that harms the environment.  That amounts to a full quarter of the savings the new congressional Super Committee has been charged with obtaining, in half the time.  For full details on the report, go to http://www.greenscissors.com.

Green Scissors 2011 is being released by four organizations: progressive environmental group Friends of the Earth, deficit hawk Taxpayers for Common Sense, consumer watchdog Public Citizen and free-market think tank The Heartland Institute. (For reactions from current and former U.S. House members from both political parties, please see below list of statements.)

“While all four groups have different missions, histories, goals and ideas about the role of government,” the groups write in the report, “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.”

The groups propose cutting many fossil fuel, nuclear and alternative energy subsidies. Other targets include massive giveaways of publicly owned timber, poorly conceived road projects and a bevy of questionable Army Corps of Engineers water projects.

“The Green Scissors report documents the breadth and depth of damage that government spending does to our environment,” said Heartland Institute Vice President Eli Lehrer. “Cutting government in the right places can make for a cleaner, healthier environment.”

“At a time when working families are expected to belt-tighten, so too must wasteful public investments in mature, polluting technologies,” said Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program. “For too long lobbyists kept these undeserving programs and tax preferences for the fossil fuel and nuclear industry funded.”

“These common sense cuts represent the lowest of the low hanging budgetary fruit,” said Taxpayers for Common Sense President Ryan Alexander. “Lawmakers across the political spectrum should be scrambling to eliminate these examples of wasteful spending and unnecessary tax breaks that are squandering our precious tax dollars while the nation is staring into a chasm of debt.”

“We can go a long way toward solving our nation’s budget problems by cutting spending that harms the environment, and this report provides the Super Committee with a road map,” said Friends of the Earth climate and energy tax analyst Ben Schreiber. “At a time of great polarization, Super Committee members can and should find common ground by ending wasteful polluter giveaways.”

As the report notes:  “To get our nation’s spending in check we will need to end wasteful programs and policies. They not only cost us up front, but also create additional financial liabilities down the road and threaten our nation’s fragile land, air and water. In addition, we need to ensure that we receive a fair return on government assets. From the more than a century old 1872 Mining Law that gives away precious metals — like gold and copper — on federal lands for free, to $53 billion in lost oil and gas revenues from royalty free leases in federal waters granted in the late 1990s, to the $6 billion per year ethanol tax credit, there are dozens of reforms that can return hundreds of bil¬lions to taxpayers while helping to address our nation’s top environmental priorities.”

"The 2011 Green Scissors Report is a reminder that it's time for Congress to have a serious, rational discussion about cutting the budget,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). “With painful budget cuts already under discussion that will require American families to make sacrifices, it is only fair, for example, that we also stop the handouts to our richest oil companies."

"Conservatives believe in the accountability of the marketplace,” said former Rep. Robert Inglis (R-S.C.). “Subsidies cost us money, and they shield some participants from innovation. It's that innovation that can grow our economy and clean up the air, water and land."

"The Green Scissors report is full of recommendations that will help us be good stewards of the environment while also being good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.). “While we won't all agree on every proposed cut, the report's recommendations are a good place to start as we look for ways to put our nation on a more sustainable fiscal path."

The Green Scissors Campaign strives to make environmental and fiscal responsibility a priority in Washington. For more than 16 years, Green Scissors has exposed subsidies and programs that both harm the environment and waste taxpayer dollars.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  A streaming audio replay of the news event will be available on the Web at http://www.greenscissors.com as of 5 p.m. EDT on August 24, 2011.

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