As Congress debates the current budget, it should be noted that the Environmental Protection Agency is slated to be cut by 31 percent and its climate research funding eliminated.

The White House insists that saving taxpayers money and beefing up national security are its main priorities. It’s relevant, therefore, to assess President Trump’s current living and travel expenses.

At the end of his four-year term in office, he will have cost taxpayers over $525 million for weekend travel plus additional Secret Service security – at Mar-a-Lago, the White House and Trump Tower. All this while his own tax contribution is in question because he refuses to release his returns.

In contrast, last year’s EPA science research budget was $588 million. That means by the end of his first term the president may have spent nearly as much as last year’s entire budget for science research at the EPA.

He has also shifted the focus of NASA’s research and development from climate monitoring to space exploration. Trump’s proposed budget either slashes or eliminates the Deep Space Climate Observatory and at least four other major programs that record data on Earth’s accelerated changes. Instead, the focus will be on Mars 2020 and other space programs.

Trump’s own defense secretary, Gen. James Mattis, has said that human-induced climate change presents one of the most destabilizing dangers in the world today. The Defense Department has been planning for climate change damage since 2003 and reports that naval bases up and down the East Coast as well as the Gulf of Mexico face imminent flooding. That’s not to mention increasing droughts and rising temperatures in some of the most unstable countries in the world.

How many of this president’s luxurious weekends will it take before those who still support him finally do the math?

Beverly Roxby

Belfast