March 16, 2017
On behalf of our millions of members and supporters nationwide, we write to strongly oppose the damaging cuts to conservation, natural resources and environmental programs in the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget request.
These critical conservation and natural resource programs account for just over 1 percent of the federal budget, yet they provide invaluable benefits: clean air for children to breathe, clean water for families to drink, healthy public lands and rivers that support a booming outdoor recreation economy, vibrant wildlife populations, sustainable fisheries, resilient ecosystems, and renewable energy that helps address climate change and powers a clean, sustainable future. These benefits are foundational to the U.S. economy and create high quality American jobs that cannot be exported.
Our environment and natural resource management agencies have seen their budgets cut and their workforce dwindle for years. This has resulted in many serious consequences: reduced scientific research and monitoring, inadequate conservation and land management actions, growing maintenance backlogs, reduced visitor services and recreational investments, and other impacts. There is a significant and growing need for Congress and the Administration to invest in conservation programs, yet this budget would do the exact opposite.
Over the past several decades, investments in conservation and environmental programs have fallen dramatically. The Congressional Budget Office projects that in the next decade federal non-defense spending will fall to the lowest level ever recorded, as a percentage of GDP.
Americans deserve a federal budget that protects public health, prioritizes conservation, addresses climate change, and ensures the world we leave our children is cleaner, healthier and more sustainable than the one we inherited. Our federal agencies have been doing everything in their power to tighten their belts and do more with less, but years of repeated budget cuts have taken their toll. This budget proposal would exacerbate an already difficult situation and leave the health of our communities and our environment hanging in the balance.
Furthermore, we were alarmed at the many policy riders in the FY17 appropriations bills that threaten the environment and undermine environmental protections. We urge that this year’s appropriations process keep bills clean of these riders. Anti-environmental riders do not enjoy the support of Americans who value clean air, water, lands and wildlife, and only serve to threaten an already challenged appropriations process.
Congress should reject this devastating budget proposal and anti-environmental riders and restore much needed funding to conservation and natural resources programs. Thank you for your consideration.