Senate Should Start Over on Interior, Environment Appropriations
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a funding bill for the Department of the Interior and Environmental Protection Agency that cuts funding for conservation to $2 billion below fiscal year 2010 levels. This results in less money for science, active management, habitat restoration, and sportsmen’s access. The bill also includes a slew of riders that would impair important habitat protections. The Clean Water Rule rider would block the protection of headwaters and ephemeral streams that supply drinking water to one in three Americans and throw 20 million acres of wetlands critical to waterfowl back into legal limbo. Another rider would prevent the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from finalizing its endangered species listing decision for the greater sage-grouse for another year, undermining the historic collaboration between 11 Western states and the Department of the Interior on conservations plans to benefit the bird.
“Not only does this bill sell sportsmen short, but its funding levels and policy provisions have made it unnecessarily controversial—it’s going nowhere and everyone knows it,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “It’s time for both parties to roll up their sleeves and hammer out a successor to the Murray-Ryan Bipartisan Budget Act. A bipartisan budget deal is the only way Congress is going to be able to make the investments in conservation that American sportsmen deserve.”
The bill contains a few pro-sportsmen priorities, including steady funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and a wildfire funding cap adjustment to bring an end to the practice of “fire borrowing.”