Washington, D.C. – Anna Aurilio, Director of Environment America’s Washington, DC Office issued the following statement in anticipation of President Obama’s FY 14 budget proposal scheduled for release later today:
“Americans, now and in the future, deserve the opportunity to experience the best that nature has to offer. They deserve air that won’t make them sick and water safe to drink, swim, and fish in.
“Americans are committed to keeping extraordinary places like Yosemite, the Great Smoky Mountains, and the Everglades protected forever. I hope to see President Obama honor that commitment to the best of our natural heritage in his budget proposal today by recommending full funding for our national parks and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Without adequate resources to protect the places we love, Americans could see more and more of our natural wonders lost to neglect or degraded by pollution and development.
“The President has pledged to address the threat of global warming by doubling down on renewable energy and energy efficiency. We hope the president will recommit to these goals in his budget proposal, by extending tax credits for renewable energy and energy efficiency and funding critical programs to spur clean energy development.
“Energy efficiency programs are the fastest, cheapest and cleanest way to cut pollution fueling global warming, and save consumers money at the same time. The Weatherization Assistance Program and the State Energy Program are critical for ensuring that low-income families can benefit from energy efficiency measures and that states can lead the way toward a cleaner and safer environment for all of us.
“America’s water infrastructure is in dire need of increased funding to protect our communities from sewage overflows, runoff pollution, and the worst effects of extreme weather. We urge President Obama to increase these funds dramatically in this year’s budget.
“We’re counting on President Obama to propose a budget that protects our health and the health of our environment.”
Environment America is the federation of 29 state-based, citizen-funded, environmental advocacy organizations working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier future.
Our Parks, Forests, Rivers and Wildlife Refuges:
This March Sequestration forced our National Parks Service to make cuts of over $100 million to their annual budget. This led places like Yosemite National Park and the Florida Everglades, to reduce staff and shorten the tourist season, which in some instances, will result in the loss of more than $1 million a day in revenue for local communities. These cuts came on the heels of our National Park Service having their budget slashed by more than 10 percent in the past 2 years alone, adding to the nearly $12 billion backlog of park needs.
A recent release by the Department of Interior showed that for every $1 Americans invest in our public lands, we see a return of nearly $10. The outdoor recreation economy generates over $640 billion in consumer spending and more than 6 million jobs annually.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has permanently protected nearly five million acres of public lands, including some of America’s most treasured assets such as Grand Canyon National Park, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, and the White Mountain National Forest. But just last year, congress moved to cut funding of the LWCF by 93 percent.
In his FY13 budget, President Obama called for half of the intended $900 million that LWCF is meant to receive. This was a step back from the full funding levels that he proposed in FY12. We hope to see him return the proposed funding to the full $900 million that the recently passed Senate budget included.
Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency:
In the State of the Union, President Obama announced new goals to double renewable energy by 2020, cut energy waste in half by 2030, and establish an energy efficiency Race to the Top initiative for states to compete for federal funding. We will look for the President’s budget to recommit to these goals by extending tax credits for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and funding critical programs like the Weatherization Assistance Program and the State Energy Program.
The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) helps low-income families, seniors and individuals with disabilities make energy efficiency improvements to their homes. This reduces future energy costs and protects our environment by cutting energy consumption and thereby global warming pollution. WAP has helped more than 6.4 million low-income households over the past 33 years, reducing their annual energy bills by an average of $437. A study by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory found that for every $1 invested in the program, WAP returns $2.51 in benefits to the household and society.
For the last 10 years, the WAP has received an average of between $200 and $250 million. However in FY 12, Congress drastically slashed the FY 12 allocation to $68 million – the lowest since the second year of the program in 1976. That abnormally low level of funding was continued with the Continuing Resolution for FY13. Without an increase in funding for FY 14, it is unlikely that the Weatherization Assistance Program will be able to continue operating at all in some states.
The State Energy Program (SEP) provides financial and technical assistance to states for developing state strategies to address their energy priorities and adopt energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. SEP saves $256 million annually in reduced energy bills.
Last year, President Obama cut the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds from FY 2012 levels. From the Chesapeake Bay to the Puget and all the smaller waterways in between, Americans strongly support protecting their drinking water and treasured waterways. Superstorm Sandy showed that outdated water infrastructure can lead to serious problems for our waterways and for the health of our communities.
Environment America also hopes the president continues his commitment to restoring the Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes, and Gulf Coast by including critical funding for these waterways in his FY14 budget. Investing in these waterways is both popular and smart. As millions love to travel to the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake, and the Gulf ever year, each waterway generates billions of dollars for our economy.