When the Senate debated the Inflation Reduction Act on Aug. 6, 2022, two Republican senators drew attention to an obscure provision buried in it.
“Their so-called Inflation Reduction Act is chock-full of Green New Deal spending; things like $1.5 billion — billion dollars — for a grant program to plant trees,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.).
“This is a good one because I know a lot of people are worried about this —$1.5 billion to plant more trees — whatever,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
The overall bill equally divided the Senate. Fifty senators voted for it and fifty voted against. Vice President Kamala Harris then decided the issue — casting her tie-breaking vote for it.
When President Joe Biden signed the 274-page bill into law on Aug. 16, 2022, it included this language on page 210: “$1,500,000,000 to provide multiyear, programmatic, competitive grants to a State agency, a local governmental entity, an agency or governmental entity of an insular area … an Indian Tribe, or a nonprofit organization through the Urban and Community Forestry Assistance program … for tree planting and related activities.”
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put out a statement last week bragging about how some of this money was being spent in San Francisco. (RELATED: DAVID BLACKMON: These Two States Couldn’t Be Any More Different Than When It Comes To Energy Policy)
“Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi announced that San Francisco will soon receive $14 million in new federal funding to plant and maintain trees, combat extreme heat and climate change, and improve access to nature,” said the statement. “This funding was awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service under Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act — the largest climate investment in history.”
“The San Francisco Bureau of Urban Forestry will receive $12 million to plant and establish thousands of street trees in low-canopy communities,” said Pelosi’s statement. “This will mitigate extreme heat and establish climate-ready neighborhoods.”
“The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department will receive $2 million to develop a comprehensive Canopy Management Plan for parks in southeast San Francisco,” said the statement.
“This federal funding from the Inflation Reduction Act will help us build a cleaner, greener Bay Area for generations to come,” Pelosi’s statement quoted her as saying. “By increasing tree cover in San Francisco, our City is planting the seeds for a healthier and more equitable community.”
Is the need to plant more trees in San Francisco truly so urgent that the federal government is justified in transferring wealth form taxpayers in Tennessee, Minnesota, Maine — and all the other states — to Pelosi’s congressional district?
Was this an equitable thing to do?
“The San Francisco Bureau of Urban Forestry (BUF) gathers and maintains a database of approximately 125,000 public trees on sidewalks, medians, and other public rights of way,” states a webpage maintained by the San Francisco Public Works Department.
But that is just the number of “public trees” that rise above “public rights-of-way.”
The total number of trees in San Francisco is much higher.
“San Francisco is home to an estimated 669,000 trees, covering about 15% of the city’s total area,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2021.
“That’s according to a Chronicle analysis of tree canopy data from EarthDefine, a geospatial data company,” the Chronicle said.
The City and County of San Francisco, according to the San Francisco Public Works Department, is approximately 46 square miles. That means the 669,000 trees in San Francisco equal approximately 14,543 trees per square mile.
Does San Francisco experience “extreme heat”? (RELATED: JOHN STOSSEL: Stop The ‘Emergency’ Spending Scam)
In the years from 1985 through 2015, September was the month that the San Francisco area experienced its warmest average daily high temperatures. It was 73 F — and that was from readings taken at San Francisco International Airport, which sits on the bay south of the city itself and does not regularly experience the cooling winds and fog that blow in from the ocean over the western side of the city — and through the Golden Gate.
While San Francisco rarely experiences high temperatures, it does experience high household incomes.
In 2021, as this column has noted before, San Francisco ranked 13th among the nation’s counties for its median household income, which was $121,826., according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The nationwide median household income that year was $70,784. That means San Francisco’s median household income was approximately 42% higher than the national median.
So should hard-working taxpayers in Tennessee, Minnesota and Maine (and all the other states), who live in households that bring in the median national income, be forced by the federal government to subsidize the planting of trees in Nancy Pelosi’s very wealthy congressional district?
Of course not.
Congress should chop this program out of our federal government.
Terence P. Jeffrey is the investigative editor for the Daily Caller News Foundation. To find out more about him, visit www.creators.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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