Green Scissors Coalition Launches New Database of Wasteful Federal Subsidies

For immediate release: Jul. 15, 2021

WASHINGTON— Today, Friends of the Earth, R Street Institute, Taxpayers for Common Sense, U.S. PIRG and Environment America relaunched the Green Scissors Coalition database of nearly $300 billion in wasteful federal support for environmentally harmful projects.

“We are in the midst of a climate crisis that demands immediate and ambitious action. It’s long past time to stop taxpayer funded giveaways to polluters,” said Sarah Lutz, Climate Campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “When it comes to paying for infrastructure, repealing dirty energy subsidies is an important first step.”

“Americans pay a heavy price when Congress persists in propping up or incentivizing environmentally risky behavior. We pay in the form of higher taxes and greater debt. We pay in the loss of sensitive lands and habitats, greater threats to air and water quality—even wildlife. And we pay again for remedies needed to respond to government-facilitated ecological problems such as water treatment in the Great Lakes or emergency spending when natural disasters strike,” said Nan Swift, R Street Institute Governance fellow. “It’s time to cut our losses and end the cronyism that undermines our natural world.”

“Too often, increasing spending becomes the go-to answer for every national policy issue. Policymakers have to do better to address the climate crisis starting with ending auto-pilot federal spending on programs and projects that are not only not helping, but getting in the way of real solutions,” said Michael Maragos, Taxpayers for Common Sense Senior Policy Analyst. “Investing billions of dollars in carbon capture and sequestration or nuclear energy technologies with no reasonable expectation of results is at best wasteful, and in reality, counterproductive. The federal debt exceeds $28 billion, and priorities like infrastructure and the economic recovery are competing for limited funds. Wasting money on programs, projects and tax breaks that increase environmental harm, climate damages, and promote corporate welfare has to stop.”

“We’re already seeing the effects of  climate change all around us: droughts and wildfires, hurricanes and tornadoes, flooding and heatwaves and deep freezes. It’s unconscionable that the federal government continues to spend taxpayer dollars in ways that are actively making the climate crisis worse,” said Matt Casale, PIRG’s environment campaign director. “Rather than simply laying out new programs to address the climate crisis, Congress needs to also look for ways to cut existing spending that is harming our people and planet.’

The new database identifies federal subsidies to cut from agriculture, energy, insurance, public lands, transportation and water programs that put valuable environmental resources in jeopardy.

To make cutting waste and protecting the environment more accessible, the Green Scissors coalition describes each of the database’s items in detail, along with its one-year and ten-year cost to taxpayers. In addition to categorizing each subsidy by issue area, the site allows users to sort the data by subsidy type. As a whole, Green Scissors cuts could provide significant savings over the next ten years in each of the issue areas:

  • $114 billion from energy programs;
  • $166 billion from agriculture programs;
  • $11.2 billion from public lands programs;
  • $1.3 billion from water programs; and
  • $3 billion from transportation projects.

Founded in 1994, the Green Scissors campaign has continued to add new coalition allies and fight to make environmental and fiscal responsibility a priority in Washington, D.C. For more than 25 years, the Green Scissors Coalition has been working to eliminate government spending that is both economically wasteful and harmful to the environment.



Friends of the Earth strives for a more healthy and just world. We understand that the challenges facing our planet call for more than half measures, so we push for the reforms that are needed, not merely the ones that are politically easy. Contact: Lukas Ross,

R Street Institute is a public policy research organization. Our mission is to engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets and limited, effective government. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C. with offices in Georgia, Texas, Ohio, California and Massachusetts. Contact: Nan Swift,

Taxpayers for Common Sense is a nonpartisan budget watchdog that has served as an independent voice for the American taxpayer since 1995. We work to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly and that government operates within its means. Contact: Michael Maragos,

U.S. PIRG is an advocate for the public interest. We speak out for a healthier, safer world in which we’re freer to pursue our own individual well-being and the common good. The problems we address aren’t progressive or conservative — they’re just problems that our country shouldn’t tolerate in an age of great abundance and technological progress. Contact: Matt Casale,