Energy

Here’s Why Congress Says Obama Has Wrecked NASA

REUTERS/NASA/Kjell Lindgren/Handout via Reuters

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Lawmakers grilled National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Charlie Bolden during a Thursday congressional hearing on President Barack Obama’s 2017 budget plan. Republicans argued the budget hurts the space agency by diverting more money into global warming research.

NASA’s budget proposal is far more concerned with spending on global warming research than supporting the agency’s mission of space exploration, according to Republican lawmakers.

“This budget takes our human spaceflight program nowhere fast. This budget undermines our space program and diverts critical funding to lower priority items,” Texas Republican Rep. Brian Babin, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Space, said during the hearing. “Orion and [the Space Launch System]  are strategic national assets and must be sufficiently funded. Proposed cuts to the planetary science division are equally disturbing.”

Democratic lawmakers, however, argued spending more climate science to be a political imperative, and have repeatedly pushed for cuts to other NASA programs, like space exploration, so money could be redirected towards global warming.

NASA’s budget includes more than $2 billion for the agency’s Earth Science Mission Directorate, which covers global warming science. The money will be specifically allocated to improve climate modeling, weather prediction and natural hazard mitigation. In comparison, NASA’s other functions, such as astrophysics and space technology, are only getting a mere $781.5 and $826.7 million, respectively, in the budget proposal.

The top scientific question the space agency claims it wants to answer in its budget justification is, “How are Earth’s climate and the environment changing?” The more typical space questions, such as “Are we alone?” and “How does the universe work?,” were at the very bottom of the list.

“This budget cuts funding for human exploration by nearly 1 billion dollars, and robotic exploration by almost a quarter of a billion dollars,” Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Science Committee, said during the hearing. “The budget request once again underfunds the Space Launch System and Orion programs. This administration cannot continue to tout plans to send astronauts to Mars while strangling the programs that will take them there.”

The Earth Science Mission Directorate’s goal is to help NASA “meet the challenges of climate and environmental change.” The organization is also responsible for global warming models proven to be inaccurate when checked against actual temperature observations.

Spending on the Directorate has increased by 63 percent over the last eight years, making it the largest and fastest growing budget of any NASA science program. Over the same time period, the general NASA budget grew only by 10.6 percent — just enough to account for inflation.

Even global-warming alarmist Bill Nye the “Science Guy,” who’s also the CEO of the Planetary Society, has criticized Obama’s attempts to cut NASA’s space exploration and planetary science programs in favor of global warming. NASA’s planetary science program has previously held car washes and bake sales to gain political support to maintain funding.

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