Budget Agreement Supports Important Conservation Programs
On May 4, the Senate voted 79-18 to pass an omnibus funding bill for the remainder of the fiscal year, which provides strong funding for important conservation programs. A few highlights from the budget that help birds and people:
- EPA’s regional programs, probably the most endangered conservation programs in the original budget proposal, will retain their current funding in the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes, while doubling for the Long Island Sound and the Gulf of Mexico.
- The Department of the Interior will receive an increase in support, including $8.9 million in additional funding for sage-grouse conservation plans.
- More support for the Department of Energy’s energy efficiency programs, an important driver of carbon pollution reductions.
- The USDA’s budget includes a whopping $150 million in drought-relief efforts for a beleaguered and arid West—a major victory for millions of people and countless birds.
Your efforts in advocating for robust federal funding for conservation programs was heard by the Congress, but will be needed again as we fight to protect this funding in fiscal year 2018, which starts October 1, 2017. We expect to see a detailed budget proposal from the Administration for fiscal year 2018 by the end of May, and will need your voices to advocate to Congress about why this funding and these programs are so important to birds and people.
Senate Upholds Rules Limiting Methane Pollution
In another huge victory for people and birds, the Senate voted yesterday against repealing a rule limiting methane waste on federal and tribal lands. This was an unexpected outcome with Republican Senators John McCain (AZ), Lindsey Graham (SC) and Susan Collins (ME) joining all Democrat Senators in voting against the repeal.
This rule requires the oil and gas industry to reduce venting, flaring, and leaks from industry infrastructure on public and tribal lands by deploying widely-available, cost-effective methane mitigation technology.
Currently, more than $330 million worth of valuable natural gas is wasted on public and tribal lands each year, meaning American taxpayers stood to lose out on $800 million in royalties over the next decade if this rule was overturned.
With yesterday’s vote, a bipartisan majority of Senators showed us that common-sense solutions to our changing climate are possible. Audubon believes this rule is a good deal for American taxpayers while benefiting birds and public health. It is also an important step toward addressing our changing climate at the speed and scale necessary.
On the heels of this win, Audubon is also asking its members and supporters to urge the Trump Administration to stay in the Paris Climate Agreement. This is an opportunity for America to be a leader on protecting the environment and showcasing American innovation around the world.
The President is expected to make a decision soon, and lending your voice at this time is critical as discussions are ongoing. For the sake of birds and people, it is vital that our country upholds our commitment to the Paris Agreement.