NWF Concerns with Interior and EPA FY 2012 Appropriations
NWF Concerns with Interior and EPA FY 2012 Appropriations National Wildlife Federation represents dedicated conservationists from all walks of life...
NWF Concerns with Interior and EPA FY 2012 Appropriations
National Wildlife Federation represents dedicated conservationists from all walks of life and political stripes, from hunters and anglers to backyard gardeners, nature enthusiasts and environmental advocates. What we have in common is a deep commitment to protect wildlife habitat and to ensure clean air and water for every American. Because of that commitment, we oppose policy riders and cuts to the conservation programs that protect America’s resources.
Conservation has long enjoyed strong, bipartisan support in Congress. Unfortunately, the policy riders and severe funding cuts in the fiscal year 2012 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill will amount to a radical departure from the longstanding national commitment to making the air we breathe and the water we drink cleaner and safer.
The bill includes $27.5 billion in spending – a reduction of $2.1 billion below last year’s level and$3.8billionbelowthePresident’sbudgetrequest. Overall,thisfundinglevelis$106million below fiscal year 2009 spending levels. The legislation also includes a total cut to climate change programs of $83 million – or 22% – from last year, and decreases land acquisition funding by $239 million – or 79%.
NWF opposes this bill due to the dramatic funding cuts for our nation’s most important wildlife conservation and habitat restoration programs while blocking enforcement of several bedrock public health and environmental laws.
America’s investment in wildlife is not to blame for the budget problems we face today. Over the past 30 years, America’s investment in parks, wildlife, clean water, and clean air has fallen from 1.7% of federal spending to 0.6% of federal spending. This includes the full budgets for the Department of Interior and EPA. And the payoff for this tiny sliver of overall federal spending is enormous: Programs implemented by Department of Interior and EPA alone generate 3 million jobs in communities throughout America. A serious effort to address the deficit would tackle the $4 billion in annual subsidies for oil and gas corporations and a host of other tax breaks and subsidies for big polluters.
Ensuring clean air, clean water and abundant wildlife is not a discretionary and wasteful function of government but a basic and core value that Americans believe in. We ask you to vote against any appropriations bill that cuts funding for wildlife conservation, natural resource protection and environmental restoration programs that benefit all families and communities and to oppose any anti-environmental riders that undermine our bedrock conservation, public health and environmental laws.
The following is a specific list of funding cuts and anti-environmental riders included in the bill, as well as those that could be added as amendments to the underlying bill.
Climate & Energy Restricting the Clean Air Act from reducing air pollution: Polluters and their allies are once again working to pass spending legislation to derail important environmental and public health standards by undermining the Clean Air Act’s ability to crack down on air pollution. If successful, these attacks will not only turn back the clock on the environmental gains made under the Act over the past forty years, but will also derail efforts to modernize and upgrade our aging electric generating infrastructure.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Starving the EPA of crucial funding to implement important public health programs will set us backwards. The EPA is funded at $7.1 billion in the legislation, which is $1.5 billion – or 18% – below last year’s level, and $1.8 billion – or 20% – below the President’s request. In total, this funding level is below the fiscal year 2006 level by $468 million.
In addition to severe budget cuts, below are proposals NWF opposes currently in the Interior & Environmental Protection Agency appropriations bill that will specifically attack action taken or expected to be taken by EPA:
Climate. A policy rider attacking the authority of the EPA to limit carbon pollution from stationary sources, as currently required by the Clean Air Act and the 2007 Supreme Court case Massachusetts v. EPA (recently reaffirmed in the case American Electric Power v. Connecticut). Such a provision would not address any budgetary issue or shrink government spending. Instead, it would prevent the federal government’s ability to control the carbon pollution from our nation’s coal fired power plants and oil refineries that increasingly puts people and wildlife at risk.
An amendment was offered in committee by Congressman Serrano (D-NY) to strip this provision from the bill. It failed by a vote of 19-29.
Fuel Efficiency. An amendment from Congressman Austria (R-OH) was added in committee to block the EPA from finalizing the next round of fuel efficiency standards for light-duty automobiles (after model year 2017). Our transportation sector is 95% dependent on oil and causing us to be slaves to the unpredictable spikes of gas prices and to the whims of foreign dictators who control the vast reserves of oil we rely on. If the Obama Administration moves forward with a 60 MPG standard, Americans could save $67 billion at the gas pump and cut gasoline consumption by 17 billion gallons. We cannot undermine the progress we’ve made on cutting pollution from our transportation sector.
Arctic Drilling Air Permits. A proposal that would push aside the federal Clean Air Act permitting process to allow Shell Oil to rush forward with ‖exploratory drilling‖ in the Chuckchi and Beaufort Seas off of Alaska’s coast. These seas are one of the last undamaged ocean frontiers, home to polar bears and other Arctic wildlife and marine life. The new rules would:
require EPA to measure air quality impacts from OCS drilling operations onshore, not at the source;
Exempt support vessels from Clean Air Act requirements, and narrows the window of time that drill ships and platforms are subject to these requirements;
Force EPA to issue or deny air permits for offshore drilling projects within 6 months;
Strip the Environmental Appeals Board of authority during the permitting process; and
Limit judicial review of these permits to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Undermining Coal Ash Regulations: A rider to restrict EPA’s authority under RCRA to implement strong, national safeguards on coal ash disposal. Coal ash is a dangerous waste generated by burning coal for energy, and it contains many hazardous metals and chemicals like arsenic, lead, hexavalent chromium and selenium. EPA has the authority and responsibility to put in place common-sense rules that protect human health and the environment by controlling the disposal of coalashtoprotectcommunitiesfromdangerouspollution. NWFopposesanyeffort to either delay any rules or compel the less protective option being considered by EPA.
Defunding the Greenhouse Gas Registry: The bill includes a modified provision thatexempts―manuremanagementsystems‖fromGreenhouseGasreporting. A similar provision was included in H.R.1, and effort restrict the Agency’s ability to gather emissions data from large polluters in the greenhouse gas registry – information crucial for the agency’s ability to set standards on carbon pollution. The EPA’s greenhouse gas registry work was required as a result of Congress passing the FY 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 2764; P.L. 110-161).
RIDERS THAT THREATEN WATER QUALITY
Undermining the Clean Water Act Rulemaking Regarding “Waters of the United States” (section 435): A rider is included in the bill that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from working on the Clean Water guidance and rulemaking needed to clarify which waters are ―Waters of the U.S.‖ protected by the Clean Water Act. The two agencies released draftguidanceonApril27th,2011,areacceptingpubliccommentsuntilJuly31st, andare committed to proceeding with notice and comment rulemaking soon thereafter. This much- needed rulemaking has been called for by Supreme Court justices and industry lobbyists, as well as by conservation groups.
Due to the confusion over which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act:
More than 117 million Americans receive their drinking water from public water systems supplied in whole or in part by at-risk waters.
Almost 60% of the stream miles across the continental United States are at risk of losing Clean Water Act protections.
1 “Geographic Information Systems Analysis of the Surface Drinking Water Provided by Intermittent, Ephemeral, and Headwaters St reams in the U.S.” http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/surface_drinking_water_index.cfm/ 2 “State-by-state NHD Analyses of Stream Categories and Drinking Water Data” (2006) Document provided by EPA. Available upon request.
More than 14,000 polluting facilities nationwide that once required pollution discharge permits may no longer require them.
Up to 20 million acres of so-called ―isolated wetlands – including prairie potholes across the Dakotas, Minnesota, Montana, and Iowa – are losing Clean Water Act protections4
More than 1,500 major pollution investigations were discontinued or shelved between 2006 and 2010.
These at-risk waters – wetlands and small streams – provide important services. A single acre of wetlands can store 1 to 1.5 million gallons of floodwater.6 Furthermore, economists estimate that a wetland acre can provide the equivalent of $10,000 worth of public benefits annually.7 Healthy wetlands and streams are also economic engines for local recreation-based economies. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that duck hunting in 2006 had a positive economic impact of more than $2.3 billion, supporting more than 27,000 private sector jobs.8 The American Sportfishing Association reports that anglers generated nearly $125 billion in total economic activity in 2006, supporting more than 1 million jobs.9 CreatingaCleanWaterActLoopholeforLoggingRoads(section438): Inalandmark decision issued August 17, 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that polluted stormwater generated by logging roads is subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System and that forest roads and their associated stormwater runoff gathering systems are ―point sources‖ subject to the National Pollution DischargeElimination(NPDES)permitprograms. This rider seeks to overturn that decision by adding an industry specific exemption to the CWA. Private and state forests of the Pacific Northwestarecrisscrossedbythousandsofmilesofforestsroads. Manyoftheseroadswere built years ago, built cheaply, are heavily traveled by logging trucks, and fall well below today’s standards. Many collect Pacific Northwest storm water and dump that water directly into forest streams. Over the years, this sediment builds up and may destroy critical fish habitat or pollute drinking water sources. In fact, in its 2000 National Water Quality Inventory, EPA listed forestry-related sediment as the fifth leading source of water quality impairment to rivers and streams nationwide.
Weakening Clean Water Act Protections Against Pesticide Discharge into Water (section 502): More than 1,000 waterways in the United States are known to be impaired because of pesticide pollution, and pesticides pose a particular threat to wildlife populations. This rider would remove Clean Water Act tools that protect rivers and streams from this toxic pollution and rely solely on “State-by-State Analyses of Individual NPDES Permits on NHD Intermittent/Ephemeral and ‘Start Reach’ Streams that have location data in PCS.” Document provided by EPA. Available upon request. 4 Eric Pianin, Administration Establishes New Wetland Guidelines: 20 Million Acres Could Lose Protected Status, Groups Say. Washington Post, at A.5 (January 11, 2003). 5Duhigg, Charles and Janet Roberts. “Rulings Restrict Clean Water Act; Foil E.P.A.” The New York Times. February 28, 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/01/us/01water.html?scp=1&sq=rulings%20restrict%20clean%20water%20act%20foiling%20epa&st=cse/ 6 EPA, Functions and Values of Wetlands, EPA 843-F-01-002c (September 2001) (factsheet). http://www.epa.gov/oecaagct/awet.html/ 7 “A Property Owner’s Guide to Wetlands Protection in Michigan.” September 2007. http://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/Wetland_Protection_brochure_241100_7.pdf/ 8 Economic Impact of Waterfowl Hunting in the United States, Addendum to the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife- AssociatedRecreation,November2008. USFishandWildlifeService. 9American Sportfishing Association, Sportfishing in America (January 2008) at the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to control pesticide pollution. While FIFRA regulates the sale and use of pesticides, it does not tailor protections to the conditions in specific bodies of water. This new loophole will endanger countless rivers and streams and take away the statutort tools that are currently used to clean up impaired streams.
Section 316(b) of the CWA requires that NPDES permits for facilities with cooling water intake structures for facilities with cooling water intake structures ensure that the location, design, construction, and capacity of the structures reflect the best technology available to minimize harmful impacts on the environment. The withdrawal of cooling water by facilities removes billions of aquatic organisms from waters of the United States each year, including fish, fish larvae and eggs, crustaceans, shellfish, sea turtles, marine mammals and other aquatic life. Most impacts are to early life stages of fish and shellfish through impingement and entrainment.
EPA has proposed standards under the Clean Water Act to follow through on a recent settlement agreement with environmental groups whereby EPA agreed to issue regulations to reduce injury and death of fish and other aquatic life caused by cooling water intake structures existing at power plants and factories. These facilities pull in large volumes of cooling water from lakes, rivers, estuaries or oceans to cool their machinery. By setting flexible technology standards, EPA’s common sense proposal would greatly reduce damage to ecosystems while accommodating site-specific circumstances and providing cost effective options. This rider would block EPA’s ability to promulgate this new standard, leaving countless rivers, lakes and streams and the species dependent upon them at risk. Blocking EPA from protecting rivers and streams from stormwater (section 439): Stormwater pollution from point sources is a challenging water quality problem. Unlike pollution from industry or sewage treatment facilities, which is caused by a discrete number of sources, stormwater pollution is caused by the daily activities of people everywhere. Rainwater and snowmelt run off streets, lawns, farms, and construction and industrial sites and pick up fertilizers, dirt, pesticides, oil and grease, and many other pollutants on the way to our rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. Stormwater runoff is our most common cause of water pollution. Because stormwater pollution is caused by so many different activities, traditional regulatory controls will only go so far and EPA has responded by beginning to develop a new rule to address this detrimental impact. This rider would block that progress. Preventing DOI from Issuing Rules to Protect Streams from Surface Mining (section 432): Keeps the Department of Interior Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement from continuing work to revise regulations that opened up streams to destructive and polluting practices associated with surface coal mining.
Blocking EPA Oversight of Mountaintop Removal Mining(section433): This shields mountaintop removal coal mining operations from EPA review by stopping EPA and the Corps of Engineers from continuing a process they put in place in April 2010, to scrutinize proposed mining permits. In addition, it suspends the use of an internal EPA memo that explains to agency personnel how the scientific evidence of the harms associated with mountaintop removal projects should be taken into account as EPA reviews permits issued to mine operators by the Corps of Engineers and states. The EPA’s policies are based on peer-reviewed scientific literature demonstrating that waters downstream of mountaintop removal mining operations in Appalachia have such high levels of pollutants that they cannot sustain aquatic life.
Preventing the EPA from relying on the best science and conducting more rigorous permit reviews will accelerate the destruction of Appalachia’s lands and waters. The EPA estimates that mountaintop removal mining has already destroyed some 2,000 miles of Appalachian streams.
Allowing Toxic Slime in Our Waters from Manure, Fertilizer and Sewage through the failuretoestablishFloridaNumericNutrientCriteria: AnamendmentproposedbyRep. Diaz-Balart (R-FL), prohibits funding for the EPA to implement or enforce numeric Florida water quality standards. This type of anti-environmental measure, with both local and national ramifications, would aim at stopping EPA from using its funding to implement, administer or enforce new water quality standards for Florida’s lakes and flowing waters, which were finalized in November. This amendment would even stop public education or enforcement of this rule to protect Florida’s waters from excess nutrient pollution from sewage, manure and fertilizer. This pollution has caused huge toxic algae blooms of green slime in many of Florida’s waters including the St. John’s River. In 2008, testing by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) revealed that 1,000 miles of the state’s rivers and streams, 350,000 acres of Florida’s lakes and 900 square miles of its estuaries were contaminated by nutrient pollution from sewage discharges and fertilizer or manure runoff. This pollution is jeopardizing the health of aquatic ecosystems and fisheries, public health, the ability to swim and boat in lakes and rivers, and Florida’s most important industry – tourism. Yet for more than a decade the state failed to finalize standards to reduce this pollution. Earthjustice, representing the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Florida Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, and St. Johns Riverkeeper petitioned the EPA to compel such standards. In August 2009, the EPA entered into a consent decree with the environmental groups, committing to propose numeric nutrient criteria for lakes and flowing waters in Florida within a year, as well as criteria for estuarine waters a year thereafter. As a result, EPA finalized water quality standards for lakes and flowing waters in Florida in November 2010. NWF would oppose any amendment that would prohibit funding for EPA to continue to develop and enact these water quality standards, as well as to implement the public education outreach envisioned.
Blocking Restoration Funding for Great Lakes States: An amendment proposed by Rep. LaTourette, and passed by voice vote by the full appropriations committee, prohibits states from receiving EPA Great Lakes funding if they have adopted ballast water requirements that are more stringent than federal requirements. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
EPA FUNDING CUTS THAT THREATEN WATER QUALITY:
Clean Water State Revolving Fund – Cut $836M – or 55% from last year’s level: CWSRF is a self-perpetuating loan assistance authority for water quality improvement projects in the United States. The fund is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency and state agencies. The CWSRF, which replaced the Clean Water Act Construction Grants program, provides loans for the construction of municipal wastewater facilities and implementation of nonpoint source pollution control and estuary protection projects. It is the most important tool to ensure that wastewater infrastructure doesn’t impair water quality and funds projects in every state and territory. EPA Geographic Programs Cut 70M – or 17% – from last year’s levels: EPA’s Geographic Programs provide technical and financial assistance to restore our nation’s Great Waters. Funding for Puget Sound, Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes and other restoration efforts all come from this pot of funding. Significant cuts will delay or stymie restoration efforts and endanger economic activity dependent upon clean water like fisheries and tourism.
The Department of the Interior is funded at $9.9 billion, which is $720 million – or 7% – below last year’s level and $1.2 billion below the President’s request.
Cuts to public lands programs include:
Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) – The bill slashes the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to $61.8 million, which is a cut of 80%. LWCF is the nation’s premier land conservation program that provides funds to acquire land and water for recreation and habitat conservation purposes as well as preserving historic battlefields and cultural sites and conservingworkingfarmsandranches. Lowlevelsoffundingmeansthatmanylocalprojects will not see any resources and will have to be scrapped.
National Wildlife Refuge System – The National Wildlife Refuge System is funded at $455.3 millionwhichisacutofover$36million,oraround7.5%fromtheFY11enactedlevel. The Refuge System was uniquely created to conserve public lands and waters for the nation’s fish, wildlife and plants. Already running on a shoestring budget, any more significant cuts in operations and management and we would likely see visitors centers closed and crucial positions, such as biologists, eliminated.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – The bill includes $1 billion for BLM – a decrease of $63 million below last year’s level and a decrease of $60 million below the budget request. National Landscape Conservation System – The Conservation System is funded at $20 million which is almost $12 million below the FY11 enacted level. These BLM lands include some of the most spectacular scenic, historic, natural, cultural, and archeological sites in our country. The Conservation System lands conserve the essential fabric of the West, by playing a role in protecting lands, water, and wildlife for future generations. Slashing funding would put rare plants and animals, dinosaur fossils, and Native American sites would increase vulnerability to vandalism, looting and irresponsible recreation.
Operation of the National Park System – The legislation includes $2.24 billion for the operation of the National Park System which is a cut of almost $7 million from FY11 enacted levels.
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) – The bill includes $1.1 billion for the USGS, a $30 million cut below last year’s level. The majority of the reductions are in climate change and satellite imaging programs.
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE) – The legislation contains $154 million for BOEMRE, which is $72 million below last year’s level (due to a transfer of royalty fee management to the Office of the Secretary). Policy riders that threaten public lands include:
Grand Canyon o Section 445 of the draft appropriations bill is a provision to block Interior
Secretary Salazar from withdrawing new uranium mining claims on one million acres around the Grand Canyon.
Recently Secretary Salazar announced he would extend the moratorium on new mining claims another six months around the Grand Canyon and would soon recommend a 20 year ban (the maximum).
The Grand Canyon is a national treasure and an international tourist destination.
Mining next to this one-of-a-kind place would jeopardize the natural qualities that make the Grand Canyon so special in the first place. o Mining development near the Grand Canyon would generate toxic waste that would contaminate the Colorado River–the ―life blood‖ and drinking water source for 27 million people.
Section 442 of the appropriations bill represents a raw political usurpation of a carefully-thought-out and scientifically credible decision by Idaho’s Payette National Forest to protect and restore at-risk populations of bighorn sheep by creating buffer zones between domestic and bighorn sheep to stop the transmission of deadly pneumonia to the bighorns. The Payette decision is based on years of analysis and exhaustive scientific study of bighorn and domestic sheep movements and disease transmission patterns, and it represents a reasoned and balanced attempt to minimize disruption to livestock producers while achieving the level of protection necessary to give bighorn sheep a chance at long-term survival and recovery.
The language would prevent any reduction in livestock numbers or change in distribution in order to manage bighorn sheep, no matter how small the change in livestock operations or how urgent the need to avoid extirpation of bighorn populations by disease outbreaks. This is an indefensible exclusion from existing law and scientific consensus for one small economic interest, and it shuts out not only the Forest Service’s own normal decision-making process, but also the voices of Indian tribes, state wildlife agencies, sportsmen, and wildlife advocates.
This language would appear to prevent movement of livestock as an emergency action to manage bighorn/domestic sheep contact, greatly impeding the Forest Service’s ability to prevent fatal outbreaks. This increased risk would appear to increase the likelihood that bighorn populations could decline to the level where listing under the Endangered Species Act could become warranted.
In addition, Section 120 of the draft appropriations bill prohibits National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review of trailing of livestock across public land. NEPA review of trailing decisions has been very important to efforts to reduce bighorn/domestic sheep contact and disease transmission.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) – The FWS is funded at $1.2 billion in the bill, a cut of $315 million – or 21% – below last year’s level.
Climate Change Funding: Several agencies across the Interior Department receive funding for climate change research and climate change adaptation.
Fundingforclimatechangeactivities was $287.5 M in the FY 12 bill, which is a cut of $83.4 M from FY 11 enacted levels. In the FY 12 bill, climate change activities at the BLM, NPS, USFWS, and Bureau of Indian Affairs were funded at $64.9 M, EPA climate change activities were funded at $153.7 M, and activities at the USGS, FS and Smithsonian Institute were funded at $68.9 M.
Landscape Conservation Cooperatives: The Fish and Wildlife Service’s Landscape Conservation Cooperatives represent an important means for leveraging federal, state, and private resources to safeguard wildlife in an era of climate change. In the FY 12 bill, this program was funded at $20 million, which is $11 million below the FY 11 budget and $17.5 million below the president’s budget request.
State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program: The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program, initiated in 2000, is the nation’s core program to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered. The program supports non-regulatory, state-based conservation efforts that protect wildlife and wildlifehabitat,preventingdeclineandlistingundertheEndangeredSpeciesAct.
Historically, the program leverages more than $100 million annually in state and private dollars for conservation and directly supports jobs in all 50 US states and US territories. The 112th Congress has attacked the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program repeatedly, eliminating funding for the program in HR1 and settling for a dramatic 1/3 funding reduction in the final compromise continuing resolution. Such draconian reductions to this program severely jeopardize its effectiveness and the 10 year commitment the federal government made to implementing State Wildlife Action Plans. Furthermore, these funding reductions risk more endangered species listings which will cause increased regulation and cost to public and private land managers.
North American Wetland Conservation Act: This important program for conserving waterfowl and other migratory bird habitat provides a catalyst for leveraging non-Federal funding and fostering public and private sector partnerships and provides benefits for flood and erosion control and water quality. In the FY 12 bill, this program was funded at 20 M, which is a 58 % decrease in funding from FY 10 (47.6 M) and a 47.5% decrease in funding from the FY 11 (37.5 M).
Endangered Species Act
The chairman’s mark includes a complete moratorium on funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service to list species under the Endangered Species Act. Furthermore, it prohibits funding to designate critical habitat for species that have already been listed as threatened or endangered.
Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund – In the FY 12 bill, this program was funded at 2.85 M, which is a 97% decrease from FY 10 (85M) and a 95% decrease in funding from the FY 11 (60 M). This fund provides grants to states and territories to implement voluntary protections for endangered wildlife on non-federal lands. Without these resources state activities will grind to a halt including habitat restoration, habitat conservation planning, land protection, and reintroduction of wildlife. These cuts will limit collaboration on conservation-minded development projects that can reduce costly litigation and project delays ESA Pesticide Policy Rider: An amendment offered by Representative Calvert that prevented funds from being used to modify, cancel, or suspend the registration of a pesticide under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act as a result of a final biological opinion or other written statement under the Endangered Species Act was adopted by the committee.
Environmental and Watershed education provide a pipeline to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) which is critical for our success in the 21st Century global green economy. It is particularly important that these programs not only advance education about science, but also advance education about the connections between the environment, the economy, energy, health, and social wellbeing. Therefore, we urge you to fund NOAA’s Environmental Literacy Grants (ELG) and Bay-Watershed Education and Training (BWET), authorized by the America COMPETES Act (Public Law No: 111-358, Sec 302), at the fiscal year 2010 level of $21.7 million ($9.7m for BWET and $12m for ELG).
Environmental Protection Agency: National Environmental Education Act Programs
Although the National Environmental Education Act (NEEA) is the nation’s only federal law committed to environmental education, the House appropriations committee eliminated funding for the program in FY 2012. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Environmental Education, implements highly leveraged, successful, nationwide environmental education programs such as the Environmental Education and Training Partnership (EETAP). This program delivers environmental education training to education professionals across the U.S. Similarly, The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) was chartered by Congress in 1990 to advance environmental knowledge and eliminating programs like these, would be a huge step backwards and devastating to environmental education nationwide.
As we forge ahead as a nation in competing in the 21st Century global clean energy economy, National Environmental Education Act programs are critical to support life-long education and environmental stewardship. The U.S. cannot lead from the back and currently we are falling behind in subjects integral to our success in producing an environmentally educated workforce that is equipped in handling the environmentally-based economic concerns of tomorrow. Without the necessary resources provided to NEEA for these key programs, United States citizens will lack the skills, knowledge and resources necessary to create innovation and ultimately fail to move us forward in 21st Century clean energy economy. An end to these critical programs means that the U.S. will have to look elsewhere and spend precious time and resources outsourcing our economic needs rather than making investments in U.S. workers.
Other Areas of Concern
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), signed into law by President Nixon, is essential to ensuring the federal government is fully informed in its decisionmaking about projectsthataffecttheenvironment. NEPAalsoenliststheparticipationofthepublictoassist federal agencies in making informed decisions that seek to improve rather than degrade the environment. In the 112th Congress, nearly 20 pieces of legislation have been introduced that will weaken or waive environmental review required by NEPA. It is expected riders to the appropriations bill will emerge that provide exemptions, modifications, and waivers of NEPA. Under the rubric of ―environmental streamlining,―cutting red tape, or ―creating jobs these efforts are looking to dismantle one of our most important environmental laws. The attacks touches many of the priorities of the National Wildlife Federation, including: clean air, responsible oil and gas development, renewable energy, forests, transportation, dirty fuels development, and access and use of our public lands.