Audubon Cautions Against U.S. House Efforts to Undermine Environmental Regulatory Standards

The proposed funding bills would strip critical conservation resources.

WASHINGTON (July 9, 2024) – The National Audubon Society expressed concern today that the House of Representatives’ annual federal appropriations process could undermine efforts to advance climate solutions, protect America’s natural resources, and address biodiversity losses that have already wiped out 3 billion birds in North America since 1970.

Of particular concern are elements of draft legislation for the FY 2025 Energy and Water and FY 2025 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bills. While the bills contain some favorable components, they would also weaken the tools used to combat climate change and undermine U.S. efforts to become more climate resilient.

 “We need robust funding to address the urgent threats of climate change and biodiversity. Birds are telling us that we must do more to invest in their future and ours,” said Jesse Walls, Senior Director of Government Affairs for the National Audubon Society. “We strongly urge Congress to sustain and increase investments in clean energy and water so we can address the pressing climate and conservation challenges that Americans, birds and other wildlife are facing.”

The bills include funding for some important conservation priorities, such as funding for the Everglades, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Delaware River Basin, and research on the impacts of offshore wind on wildlife, while also maintaining funding levels for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

However, the energy and water bill would weaken the tools used to combat climate change and undermine America’s efforts to become more climate resilient. The Interior bill reduces Environmental Protection Agency funding by 20% and includes a number of policy riders, including:

·         prohibiting the use of funds to finalize, implement, administer, or enforce the Draft Resource Management Plan Amendment or the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Greater Sage-Grouse Rangewide Planning,

·         blocking final rules that updated and clarified the regulations for the conservation of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants, and

·         blocking funding for assessing the value of ecosystem and environmental services and natural assets in federal regulatory decisions, which would exacerbate our biodiversity and climate crisis.

Two-thirds of North American birds are currently at risk of extinction because of climate change and the natural disasters that come with this worsening crisis, like hotter burning wildfires, more extreme storms, sea-level rise, and severe droughts. 

The proposed budget cuts to the Department of the Interior would undermine bedrock laws like the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as well as efforts to reduce carbon emissions and programs that help make American communities more resilient to increasing and costly natural disasters. The proposed legislation also cuts resources from the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, threatening jobs and harming communities that rely heavily on the outdoor recreation economy.

"Moving forward, we ask Congress to separate the debt ceiling adjustments and the appropriations process, eliminating budget caps and allowing lawmakers to use science-based solutions that address the environmental threats Americans see and feel happening in their own neighborhoods,” said Walls. “Additionally, we ask congressional leadership to offer bipartisan draft appropriations text and allow the amendment process to play out as intended,”

About Audubon
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.

 Media Contact: Robyn Shepherd, robyn.shepherd@audubon.org