Congress Advances Conservation Priorities in Interior Appropriations Bill

Increased Funding is Good News for America's Wildlife, Waters and Lands

10-29-2009 // NWF Staff
Bats swarm

WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, the House and Senate cleared a $32.2 billion Interior and Environment appropriations bill for the 2010 fiscal year. The $4.7 billion increase over 2009 funding levels will improve conservation efforts across the board and give agencies the resources they need to take on new climate change initiatives. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.

"Like a shot of adrenalin, this bill will breathe new life into our nation's conservation programs," said Corry Westbrook, Legislative Director at the National Wildlife Federation. "For too long, key conservation programs and agencies and have been shortchanged and undercut. Congress has reached the bar set by President Obama by delivering the best Interior appropriations bill we have seen in years."

The Interior and Environment appropriations bill includes:

  • $450 million to protect lands for conservation, recreation, and wildlife habitat under the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

  • $641 million to protect the nation's Great Bodies of Water, including $475 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which invests in solutions to stop invasive species that are costing the region at least $200 million per year in damages and control costs; clean up contaminated sediments that pose a health threat to people and wildlife; and restore wetlands and other habitat that protects water quality, prevents flooding and is the foundation of the region's outdoor economy. Additional funds will be used to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, Puget Sound, Long Island Sound, Gulf of Mexico, Lake Champlain, and Lake Pontchartrain. Funding will be used to prevent urban and farm run-off, improve water quality, restore watershed function and address other threats.

  • $385 million for programs that address global climate change, including $67 million for priority climate change research at the U.S. Geological Survey and an additional $15 million for that agency’s National Global Warming and Wildlife Science Center, which will help wildlife adapt to climate change, and $55 million for on-the-ground monitoring and adaptation to climate change impacts in national parks, national wildlife refuges, and other public lands.

  • $90 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program which provides state wildlife agencies and their partners a broad suite of proactive conservation tools. Congress affirmed that states need to update wildlife action plans to respond to climate change, but unfortunately, did not specifically direct a portion of the increased funding to climate change efforts as requested by the administration.

  • $503.3 million for the National Wildlife Refuge System to provide critically needed staff, implement climate change strategies, and improve conservation efforts.
    "This is a forward thinking appropriations bill that not only funds what needs to be done today to protect our cherished wildlife and natural resources, but also lays the foundation for a new era of conservation in the face of climate change," said Bruce Stein, Associate Director of Wildlife Conservation and Global Warming at the National Wildlife Federation.

Despite the overwhelming positive aspects of the bill, National Wildlife Federation is disappointed that several harmful provisions were included in the final bill. One exempts ships on the Great Lakes from an EPA rule that aims to clean up air emissions from ship engines that burn some of the dirtiest fuel on the planet. Another would hinder the Environmental Protection Agency's reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from concentrated animal feeding operations.

"How can we get a handle on our country's contribution to global warming pollution when we can't even ask the industry that generates the largest amount of methane--a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than CO2--to report their emissions," said Julie Sibbing, Director of Global Warming, Agriculture and Wildlife at the National Wildlife Federation.

The National Wildlife Federation is America's largest conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.