4 ways the Republican tax plan could harm the planet.
On Friday, Senate leaders announced they had the votes to pass the tax bill thanks to some frantic last-minute revisions. In the ado surrounding the sweeping overhaul, the bill’s potential environmental effects have gone under the radar:
- Arctic drilling. The Senate bill would open up 1.5 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. The measure was added to help win the vote of Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican who wavered on the plan.
- Renewables. While the House version rolled back tax credits for electric vehicles and renewable development, the updated Senate proposal leaves those credits in place. However, it does contain a new provision that wind and solar companies worry could hurt renewable investments.
- Agriculture. The plan could have serious implications for farmers and ranchers. Significant cuts to USDA programs could eliminate $20 billion in farm aid.
- Environmental research. The bill could also be devastating for graduate students by ending the tax break they receive on their tuition waivers. LuAnne Thompson, a professor of oceanography at the University of Washington, told Grist that this could ultimately decrease the diversity and number of students in environmental graduate programs.
“The worry is that if this passes — and then the other attacks on funding within the federal government for climate science — then we’re going to lose a generation of climate scientists,” Thompson said.