Conservation Impacts of the Fiscal Cliff


In the coming weeks, Congress and the President will be faced with a difficult choice--Will they allow massive budget cuts to programs that Americans count on--including those that defend clean air and water, safeguard public lands and wildlife, and protect human health--or will they find a path forward to raise revenue and stave off these harmful cuts?

How Did We Get Here?

To address America's growing budget deficit problem, Congress created a 12-member "Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction" in 2011 as a way to step outside the traditional bounds of the legislative process and partisan posturing. 

Unfortunately, the committee did not reach a compromise—and as a result, our nation faces a series of automatic spending cuts known as "sequestration." Unless Congress reaches a deal before January 2, 2013, mandatory spending cuts will slash $109 billion from next year's budget and $1.2 trillion over the following nine years--crippling vital conservation programs that protect our nation's wildlife and natural resources.

Cuts to the non-defense discretionary category, the smallest portion of the federal budget, will have a disproportionate impact on conservation programs that have already suffered devastating cutbacks. These cuts will fall like an axe, forcing program managers and agency heads to slash programs by 8.2 percent across the board.


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Tell your members of Congress to preserve funding for vital wildlife conservation programs >>

Conservation Investments Work for Wildlife and You

Conservation spending—now only 0.6 percent of the federal budget after three decades of cuts—accounts for 3 million jobs across the country. Programs like the National Parks System and the National Wildlife Refuge system generate $25 billion in economic activity each year.

In addition, the outdoor recreation industry supports more than 6 million jobs and $730 billion annually in economic activity, generating $49 billion in federal tax revenue.

This is money that puts the auto industry to work building clean cars, and includes aid to your state to improve the quality of lakes and rivers in your community. Every $1 million invested in ecosystem restoration activities creates an average of 30 mostly private-sector jobs.

To see how other conservation investments are helping wildlife, providing clean air and water, and supporting local economies, download the full report: Conservation Works: How Congress Can Lower the Deficit and Protect Wildlife & Public Health (pdf).

What Can Be Done?

Congress must act immediately to employ a balanced approach to raise revenue and reduce wasteful spending to stave off these devastating cuts. Instead of cutting critical conservation programs, we need to shift the burden of responsibility by eliminating billions of dollars in subsidies for oil and gas companies.

At a time when climate change and conservation are increasingly absent from the national debate, it is more important than ever to fight for the crucial conservation programs we rely on to protect wildlife for our children's future.

Download our fact sheet on the Fiscal Cliff's impact on wildlife (pdf) >> 

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