The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), better known as the stimulus act or stimulus package, was passed with the stated goal of helping our economy. It was meant to create jobs and boost consumer spending. Opponents of the nearly $1 trillion act pointed out that many of the provisions had nothing to do with helping the economy.
Looking back at a few different documents, I’ve found that the stimulus act spent over $600 million dollars on climate change research among three Federal agencies. In addition, there was $25 billion spent on researching different greenhouse gas emissions mitigation options.
In March 2009 the Pew Center on Global Climate Change issued a document summarizing the key provisions in the ARRA. It is available here. On the bottom of the first page, they show the spending on climate change research. Here is a graphic (click to view):
NOAA gets $170 million, and NASA gets $400 million for a total of $570 million. However, this total is incorrect. Another agency got money for climate research from the ARRA. The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility, which is a part of the Department of Energy (DOE) received $60 million. This press release from Dec. 2009 makes mention of the funding:
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science provided $60 million in ARRA funding for climate research to the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility, a DOE national user facility that has been operating climate observing sites around the world for nearly two decades.
This is also corroborated by a 2010 slide show given by the ARM facility. Slide 16 shows the following:
So 400 + 170 + 60 = 630. The stimulus package spent at least $630 million on climate change research. Justifying this spending inside an economic stimulus package is extremely difficult. How does taking money from taxpayers and then giving that money to climate scientists at NASA, NOAA, or the ARM stimulate the economy?
However, these hundreds of millions of dollars pale in comparison to the $25 billion spent on researching possible greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation strategies. According to the Office of Policy and International Affairs within the DOE, over $25 billion dollars were spent on researching different possible GHG mitigation solutions. Here is their statement:
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provided just over $25 billion in additional funding for research and development across a broad portfolio of GHG mitigation options, including: high-performance buildings; efficient manufacturing; advanced vehicles; clean biofuels; wind, solar, geothermal, and nuclear power; carbon capture and sequestration; advanced energy storage; a more intelligent electric grid; and techniques for reducing emissions and/or increasing uptake of carbon dioxide in agriculture and forestry.
To be fair, some of this spending would have benefits other than simply reducing GHG emissions. However, the stated goal of this spending is reduced emissions, NOT the creation of jobs or the stimulation of the economy. Reducing emissions does not create jobs.
All of this spending on climate research didn’t faze the White House, which in a press release proudly displayed this graphic:
Notice the large purple bar sitting on top of 2009. This is the ARRA spending. Even with all the spending on climate research this year ($2.6 billion), 2009 will be higher because of the ARRA.
If Obama wanted to reduce emissions (or fund research studying it), or fund more climate change research, then he should have done so separately from this package. Instead, he spent the money inside of a package which was sold to the American people as a way to help the economy. Funding research on climate change and GHG reduction did not stimulate our economy and it did not belong in the stimulus package. Climate science gets plenty of funding from the Federal government already. The last thing we needed during ‘the great recession’ was even more of taxpayer’s money being spent on climate science.