Critical Funding for Wildlife Added to Bipartisan Global Warming Bill

New funding source for state wildlife conservation unprecedented

05-19-2005 // Christine Dorsey

WASHINGTON, DC -- Legislation to confront global warming introduced in the Senate last week includes unprecedented funding for wildlife conservation that could generate between $500 million and $2 billion annually in new revenue for state wildlife grants.

The new wildlife provision was added to the bipartisan Climate Stewardship Act sponsored by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT).

"The prospect of getting a real grip on global warming in a way that produces enormous benefits for wildlife all across the country is one of the most innovative ideas to come out of Congress in recent decades," Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation, says.

The legislation combines a market-based approach to spur technology with clear goals and safeguards to control U.S. global warming pollution. It came close to passage in the Senate during the last Congress, and the revamped measure is slated for another possible vote in the coming months.

"This is great news for wildlife and for the millions of Americans who want to assure a wildlife legacy for our children's future," says Schweiger. "Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman are listening to sportsmen, birders and other Americans who love the great outdoors and are concerned about the impacts of global warming."

The new wildlife provision requires at least 10 percent of revenue collected from a new system of global warming pollution permits be used to assist states with wildlife conservation by enhancing the existing State Wildlife Grant program with a reliable, guaranteed source of funding. The revenue would support the shared federal-state responsibility to manage wildlife under the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program of the Pittman-Robertson Act.

"Enhancing wildlife conservation with revenue from this global warming legislation makes good sense," says Schweiger. "Generations of sportsmen have purchased hunting and fishing licenses to promote the responsible use of our wildlife resources. Meanwhile, industrial pollution has left the public footing the bill from the mounting impacts of global warming on wildlife. It is time that industry pays its fair share to protect wildlife."

A recent report by The Wildlife Society, the nation's leading authority on wildlife, finds that wildlife species in North America are beginning to respond to the average 1-degree Fahrenheit global temperature rise experienced in the last century. As habitats continue to change in response to global warming, many wildlife species will be forced to adapt, or could face extinction.

"If we want wildlife to be resilient in the face of a changing climate, we must give wildlife managers a secure, guaranteed funding stream to manage public lands with the future in mind," Schweiger says. "Revenue from this bill will enhance the ability of state wildlife managers to address existing conservation needs and the additional burden of global warming."

The Climate Stewardship Act (S. 342) is considered a modest first step toward curbing U.S. global warming pollution, joining the dozens of nations that are already taking steps to reduce emissions. The bill calls on major polluters to rein in growing emissions of global warming pollution to the levels they emitted in the year 2000.

The measure establishes a new system of global warming pollution permits that limits the total amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that could be emitted in the United States each year, beginning in 2010. The limit would be set at 5.9 billion tons each year, the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by major sources such as power plants, oil refineries and other large manufacturers, in the year 2000. Households, small businesses, farms, ranches and rural electric coops are not regulated under the bill.

Every year, the government would sell and otherwise issue the available permits to industry. Because the bill features a flexible compliance system that encourages innovation and minimizes the cost of compliance for industry, the exact cost of permits--and the revenues paid to the government--will be determined by the free market.

The bill is modeled after the highly successful cap and trade program for acid rain created by the Clean Air Act.

In addition to funding wildlife, the revenues will be used to bolster federal investments in technology, to assist communities in responding to global warming, and to assist low income families and others with energy bills.

The bill would support development of a suite of new energy technologies, including advanced coal, biomass, solar, and nuclear energy. While NWF supports the Climate Stewardship Act's market based approach to limiting global warming pollution, NWF does not believe the bill's nuclear power provisions are necessary. Economic analyses by the Department of Energy and other institutions show that dramatic cuts in global warming pollution are possible through advances in energy efficient technologies, biofuels and other cleaner, renewable energy sources. NWF will continue to work with the bill's sponsors to improve the bill with the goal of eliminating potential subsidies for nuclear power.

The National Wildlife Federation is America's conservation organization protecting wildlife for our children's future.

Immediate Release: May 31, 2005

Contacts: Christine Dorsey - 202-797-6806, dorsey@nwf.org
Jeremy Symons - 202-939-3311, symons@nwf.org

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