(New Orleans, LA) Today, national and local organizations working on Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River Delta restoration – Environmental Defense Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Ocean Conservancy, and The Nature Conservancy – released the following statement in advance of two different budget hearings today, one with Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and another with Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who will be giving testimony before a congressional budget committee on President Trump’s proposed budget:
“It’s easy to miss why these programs matter if your home, family and businesses aren’t on the Gulf Coast, in the regular path of mega storms. Funding for restoration makes the coast and its communities more secure and able to withstand extreme weather.
“In this proposed budget, the Trump Administration is demonstrating that it does not understand what’s at stake for our region.
“We call on the Gulf delegation - including leaders who have lived through storms like Katrina, Matthew, Gustav and Ike - to stand up for coastal communities.
“Gulf Coast restoration efforts are designed to bring federal, state and local governments, businesses, and community leaders together to find solutions that work. That kind of collaboration is what makes communities thrive. Cutting funding for regionally-based restoration and research puts all of that good work at risk.
“Congressional leaders -- particularly from the Gulf delegation and other coastal areas around the country -- must make good on their promises of restoration.”
The proposed budget cuts will:
- Upend the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA), which is a commitment from Congress to share offshore energy revenues with four of the Gulf states that are impacted by offshore energy production.
- Cut $120 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a program that Congress created 52 years ago, making use of royalties that oil companies pay for offshore drilling leases. By 2015, the fund had spent $17 billion nationwide, including $4.1 billion in matching grants to states and local governments that want to create parks and recreation sites.
- Additionally, it would cut funding to other regionally-based programs including the NOAA National Estuarine Research Reserves, the state Coastal Zone Management Programs, and the state Sea Grant Programs – all of which are crucial to keeping our Gulf Coast healthy and vibrant.
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The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more how to help at www.audubon.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.
Jacques Hebert, 504.264.6849, email@example.com