Cravaack wants to cut funding for climate-change education program

/ 10 May 2012 / jennifer

John Myers, Duluth News Tribune, May 10, 2012 –

U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack on Wednesday introduced an amendment to a federal funding bill to kill funding for a National Science Foundation program that teaches students and others about climate change.

Cravaack, R-North Branch, said the NSF program, called the Climate Change Education Program, duplicates other programs and is unneeded.

“As someone who supports education, amid an (annual budget) deficit of $1.3 trillion and debt of $15.7 trillion, a redundant global warming program can hardly be justified. The recently created CCE duplicates the already inherent ability of the NSF to fund worthy proposals through its rigorous, peer-reviewed process,” Cravaack said in a statement. “We need to keep NSF focused on research and innovation while we work to eliminate duplicative education programs that do nothing to improve our economic outlook. However you feel about global warming – that is not the debate today. This amendment addresses a duplicative program costing us money we simply do not have.”

But supporters of the NSF program on climate change says it is critical to spread accurate information from climate scientists to the public. The vast majority of scientists say global warming is real, that it’s happening and that humans are the primary cause. They say the education efforts are necessary to offset misinformation from groups — often tied to the coal and oil industry — attempting to confuse the issue.

Grants from the NSF program in Minnesota go to the Como Zoo in St. Paul and Carleton College in Northfield, according to the National Wildlife Federation, whose director of education advocacy called Cravaack’s amendment “an effort to keep our children in the dark about the science of climate change. It’s an attack on our children’s future.”

“The preponderance of legitimate climate scientists agree that the climate is changing, we’re causing it, and the results could be catastrophic,” Patrick Fitzgerald of the National Wildlife Federation told the News Tribune. “Moneyed opponents of environmental action have managed to suggest ‘doubt’ and endless equivocation as a solution. … We’re adding insult to injury by not addressing climate change today while also not educating our children about the science and impacts they will have to deal with in the future.”

The amendment is to H.R. 5326, the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013.

Cravaack said the 2011 budget proposal from the Obama administration requested $10 million for the Climate Change Education Program to form “partnerships among K-12 education, higher education, the private sector, related nonprofit organizations, and relevant education and/or climate related policymakers.” NSF already spends $1.3 billion on education activities and $333 million on climate research, Cravaack said in his news release.