On the heels of a new report from Government Accountability Office (GAO) noting that climate change is costing the federal government billions, the EPA this week canceled speeches by three agency scientists, who were scheduled to discuss climate change at a conference in Providence, Rhode Island.

Speeches by research ecologist Autumn Oczkowski and postdoctoral fellow Rose Martin, who work in the EPA’s National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory Atlantic Ecology Division in Rhode Island and EPA consultant Emily Shumchenia were canceled by the agency with no explanation.

Fishing, tourism industries

The conference focused on the state of the Narragansett Bay, which is vital to New England’s tourism and fishing industries. The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program gets about $600,000 each year through the EPA’s National Estuary Program – funding it (along with 27 other estuary programs in the U.S.) would lose under EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s 2018 budget, which seeks to eliminate the program.

Costs already high, going higher

The GAO says extreme weather and wildfires related to climate change have wracked up $350 billion in costs over the last decade – and that figure will only get larger in the years ahead.

Premature deaths related to extreme temperatures will cost an estimated $161 billion a year from 2040 to 2059. The costs of climate change across health, labor, agriculture and other sectors could make up 0.7 to 2.4 of the country's GDP by the end of the century.

The report found the U.S. would save $200 billion a year preventing deaths due to extreme temperatures in 49 major cities.

The GAO recommended recommended that the president use this information in the report to "help identify significant climate risks and craft appropriate federal responses."

Trump administration and climate change

President Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord and directed the EPA to reverse Obama-era limits on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

The EPA has removed most references to climate change from its website. Pruitt, who as Oklahoma attorney general had close ties to the oil and gas industry, has publicly rejected the association between human activity and climate change.