Funding for environmental and conservation work is currently at the forefront of the budget battle raging in Congress. The United States House and Senate have strikingly different Environment and Interior Appropriations bills that will be difficult to reconcile.
The House Environment and Interior Appropriations Bill would eliminate all funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which uses revenues from offshore drilling to buy natural areas for public enjoyment. LWCF is the source of funding for the Outdoor Recreation Grants and Urban Outdoor Recreation Grants awarded by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Texas has received over $478 million in LWCF funds over the past four decades, with a large portion going to the Greater Houston Region.
This bill would also end appropriations for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), which provides grants for wetland acquisition and restoration through the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, and institute deep cuts to categorical grants, which assist states in enforcing environmental regulation.
Two EPA programs, the State Revolving Funds (SRF) that finance projects to ensure safe, drinkable water, would also see dramatic reductions under the House Bill:
If the House and Senate are unable to compromise on a new bill and instead pass a “continuing resolution” to maintain funding at 2013 levels, the EPA would still be subject to automatic cuts due to sequestration.
While the US faces a serious budget crisis, abandoning investment providing clean air, water, and functional ecosystems will have devastating impacts on our future prosperity and wellbeing, and effectively it is imperative that the House Environment and Interior Appropriations Bill does not serve as the basis for how we fund vital environmental programs.
Since Texas will be severely affected by the proposed cuts in the House, we urge the environmental/conservation community to reach out to regional congressional members and let them know about the negative regional impacts of the proposed budget cuts.
Read more about the dangers of this bill to conservation funding from Ducks Unlimited.
See the bills for yourself here:
Check out this list of 20 programs cut by the House Bill.