Green Scissors 2012: Cutting Wasteful and Environmentally Harmful Spending

This report is the latest of a string of assessments produced over the past 18 years to identify and quantify federal subsidies that harm the environment as well as waste prodigious amounts of money.  The exact coalition producing the reports varies a bit year-to-year, but the Green Scissors Campaign has always been a collaboration between budget and environmental groups aimed at eliminating wasteful spending that is harmful to the environment. This year’s report details nearly $700 billion in cuts over a 10-year period from five different areas: energy, federal insurance, agriculture, transportation, and lands and water. That savings represents about 63 percent of the $1.2 trillion in spending cuts Congress will be required to implement beginning into 2013 under the “sequestration” process. 

Wasteful and environmentally harmful government spending comes in many different forms, including discretionary programs, mandatory programs such as commodity crop payments, tax expenditures, below-market giveaways of public resources, preferential government financing such as loan guarantees, and risk  reduction through government insurance and liability caps. What these subsidies all have in common is that they damage the  environment while providing a benefit to one class not available to others.