Chronic Underfunding Putting Vital Programs at Risk

Thursday, February 11, 2016

American Forests - American Rivers - Clean Water Action - Defenders of Wildlife - Environment America -  Green Science Policy Institute - League of Conservation Voters - Natural Resources Defense Council - Ocean Conservancy - Sierra Club - The Wilderness Society 

Washington - Spending on commonsense programs that protect public health, support our communities, and safeguard America's lands, air, water, wildlife, and parks has been flat or falling for years. While President Obama's Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposal boosts spending in certain areas and the 2016 appropriations bill included some much needed increases for natural resources and conservation programs, much work remains to be done. Years of constrained budgets have led to a host of problems, from backlogged maintenance of our national parks and other public lands to inadequate scientific research to compromised conservation efforts.

Today, a diverse group of conservation and environmental organizations released a report detailing the impacts of underfunding for natural resources and conservation programs, and the need for reinvesting in the agencies and programs that are vital to protecting our environment, American families, our economy, and jobs. The groups called on the Congress and the Obama administration to find a permanent solution to the budget cuts imposed by sequestration and continue making the necessary investments to get environmental and conservation programs back on track.

Report Links: Scribd - http://bit.ly/1Xjuk5c | PDF - http://bit.ly/1nZM1Kw

"The federal government can play a vital role in putting drinking water first, acting on climate, and protecting public health," said Lynn Thorp, Campaigns Director for Clean Water Action. "But years of efforts by some in Congress to block progress, overturn fundamental protections, and  put polluter profits first has taken a toll. It's time to invest in our water, environment, and communities. "

“America’s shared public lands represent one of the nation’s greatest treasures and reflect our national identity and natural heritage," said Cam Witten, Government Relations and Budget Specialist for The Wilderness Society. "Our unique system of public lands was created so that all Americans, from all walks of life, could enjoy the outdoors and the benefits of our public lands in perpetuity. Modest investments in our public lands have incredible benefits for public health, wildlife conservation, outdoor recreation, local economies that benefit from recreational tourism, and the larger national economy."

“You get what you pay for.  Every single agency—except the EPA—had a funding increase last year,"  said Scott Slesinger, Legislative Director for NRDC. "Protecting our health and environment means investing in infrastructure, enforcement and compliance.  The Flint crisis and the VW scandal show the human—and global—fallout of devoting fewer resources to basic environmental safeguards.”

“The U.S. ocean and coastal economy contributes more than $343 billion annually to the nation’s GDP and supports 2.9 million jobs. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s mission to protect our ocean supports coastal economies and the communities that rely on them,” said Addie Haughey, senior manager of government relations at Ocean Conservancy. “We are committed to advocating for the best investments to ensure our ocean and the people that most depend on it continue to thrive.”

"Understanding the impact of environmental exposures on human health is needed as a basis for prevention programs for cancer, Alzheimer's disease, autism, asthma, Parkinson's disease, obesity, preterm birth, and other chronic diseases and disorders," said Arlene Blum, Executive Director of Green Science Policy Institute. " Increased funding for research would provide better information for policy makers to make more protective decisions."

“The president’s budget shows that he’s doubling down on climate action. One of the biggest highlights is a massive proposed investment in clean car, solar, and wind technologies to make them affordable for all Americans," said Margie Alt, Executive Director of Environment America. "We urge Congress to match the president’s commitment to clean energy and clean air this year, and do so without damaging policy riders.”

“The Green Investments Report reveals the consequences of severe cuts, for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other crucial conservation programs, that unfortunately have been all too common in the congressional budget for the past several years,” says Mary Beth Beetham, Director of Legislative Affairs at Defenders of Wildlife. “But it also shows the incredible benefits of investments in cornerstones of wildlife conservation in the United States, such as the National Wildlife Refuge System and the Endangered Species Program. We need to prioritize our nation’s wildlife habitat, endangered species protection, the prevention of wildlife trafficking and other conservation initiatives. This report shows just how valuable they are, and what we stand to lose by neglecting them.”

“This document outlines the critical investments we need to make to protect our air, water, lands, and wildlife,” said LCV Deputy Legislative Director Alex Taurel. “Investments in critical environmental programs have fallen woefully short for far too long, and as the crisis in Flint has so unfortunately demonstrated, this lack of investment has dire consequences for our health, environment, and economy.  It’s time to reverse course so we can leave a brighter future for our kids and grandkids with clean air, clean water, a safe climate and open spaces.”

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Michael Kelly
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