Budget-slashers in Washington could get a jump-start toward their goal by eliminating environmentally harmful subsidies, an unusual coalition of conservative and liberal groups advised Wednesday.
The coalition agreed in a report that many programs Congress has been protecting for years should be eliminated, including subsidies for coal, oil and gas, the ethanol tax credit, farm subsidies and nuclear and solar loan guarantees.
These and other proposals in the groups' "Green Scissors" report would save $380 billion over five years. That's about a quarter of the $1.5 trillion Congress is required to cut over 10 years in the second round of debt reductions it agreed to earlier this month.
This is the 16th year of the Green Scissors report, but this time its total of recommended cuts is larger, and a sharply partisan Congress is under great pressure to find agreement on budget cuts. Also new is that one of the groups behind the report is the Heartland Institute, an anti-regulatory organization best known for its attacks on the work of the vast majority of the world's climate scientists.
Eli Lehrer of Heartland, one of the authors, said he hoped it showed "that well-meaning people, whether they're self-identified progressives or libertarians or conservatives, can get together and come up with common-sense, common-ground solutions to cut spending and save the environment."
Lehrer, who describes himself as a conservative Republican, specializes in insurance issues, not climate.
Ben Schreiber of Friends of the Earth, another author, said the report is a good starting point. The other groups that produced it are Taxpayers for Common Sense, a government waste watchdog, and Public Citizen, a consumer group.
"There's support across the political spectrum for these types of cuts," Schreiber said.
Some of those cuts include:
_ Subsidies for coal, gas and oil: Fossil fuel ...