(WASHINGTON) “After months of negotiations, it is good to see Congress come together to make investments in economic stimulus, conservation, climate resilience, and greenhouse gas emissions reductions,” said Sarah Greenberger, interim chief conservation officer and senior vice president, Conservation Policy. “This bill advances many critical programs that will help protect and restore the places and resources birds need the most, but more must be done in the coming year to act on climate and address problematic riders and programs that undermine conservation.”

Congress and the President are poised to enact a $2.3 trillion spending bill this week that will provide economic support for Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic and appropriations to fund the federal government until September 30, 2021. The omnibus legislation also includes several important packages like the Water Resources Development Act of 2020, legislation for critical water conservation programs in the West, tax relief for renewable energy development, and funding for clean energy development.

For the sixth consecutive year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be restricted from pursuing endangered species listing and protections for the Greater Sage-Grouse.

“It is deeply disappointing that Congress continues to include short-sighted directive that prohibits the Greater Sage-Grouse from being listed under the Endangered Species Act,” added Greenberger. "We hope the Biden-Harris administration will make it a priority to restore the historic multi-state agreement that remains the species best shot at recovery.”

Within the sweeping legislation Congress passed the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, a bill that requires phasing down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by 40% by 2024, and by 85% by 2036. HFCs and CFCs can be many thousands of times more potent that carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere, and some are also detrimental to the ozone layer.

“This bill represents one of the strongest actions that Congress has taken to directly address climate change,” said Michael Obeiter, senior director of federal climate strategy at the National Audubon Society. “The fact that this legislation has the support of both the industrial and environmental communities is a welcome sign of a greener future for both people and wildlife.”

The Water Resources Development Act of 2020 was also attached, thanks to work by Audubon and a coalition of partners. The legislation supports ecosystem restoration projects and studies in the Everglades, Coastal Louisiana, the Great Lakes, the Rio Grande, and the Chesapeake Bay.

“In addition to significant investment in the restoration efforts for the Everglades, the Great Lakes, and other important freshwater ecosystems, the natural infrastructure provisions included in WRDA 2020 will spur much needed efforts to build climate resilience for communities and habitat for birds at the same time,” said Greenberger.

Audubon will be closely reviewing the legislative text over the coming days to see how it aligns with our FY21 Bird Budget. Here are a few important programs that saw increases in this year’s federal appropriations:

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Programs:
    • Coastal Zone Management and Services: Audubon Ask = $45M: Final Appropriations = $46.7M
    • Coastal Management Grants: Audubon Ask = $77M: Final Appropriations = $78.5M
    • National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund: Audubon Ask = $33M: Final Appropriations = $34M
    • National Estuarine Research Reserve System:  Audubon Ask = $27.5M: Final Appropriations = $28.5M
    • Sanctuaries and Marine Protected Areas:  Audubon Ask = $55M: Final Appropriations = $56.5M
    • National Marine Fisheries Service: Audubon Ask = $947.66M: Final Appropriations = $964.86M
    • Habitat Conservation and Restoration: Audubon Ask = $57.13M: Final Appropriations = $57.625M
    • Climate Research: Audubon Ask = $169.5M: Final Appropriations = $182M
  • Department of Interior
    • Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: Audubon Ask = $320M: Final Appropriations = $330M
    • Sage-Grouse Conservation: Audubon Ask = $64M: Final Appropriations = $66M
    • Delaware River Basin: Audubon Ask = $10M: Final Appropriations = $10M
    • South Florida Geographic program: Audubon Ask = $3.2M: Final Appropriations = $6M
    • Long Island Sound geographic program: Audubon Ask = $21M: Final Appropriations = $30.4M
  • U.S. Army Corps
    • South Florida Ecosystem Restoration (Everglades): Audubon Ask = $250M: Final Appropriations = $250M
    • Upper Mississippi River Restoration: Final Appropriations = $33.17M
  • Department of Energy
    • EERE total: Audubon Ask = $2.85B: Final Appropriations = $2.86B
      • Solar Program: Audubon Ask = $280M: Final Appropriations = $280M
      • Photovoltaic Solar: Audubon Ask = $72M: Final Appropriations = $72M
      • Wind Program: Audubon Ask = $104M: Final Appropriations = $110M
      • Land-Based Wind: Audubon Ask = $31.8M: Final Appropriations = $31.8M
      • Offshore Wind: Audubon Ask = $53M: Final Appropriations = $63.2M
    • Carbon Capture Research on Industrial Facilities: Audubon Ask = $8M: Final Appropriations = $8M
    • Energy Storage: Final Appropriations = $80M
    • ARPA-E: Final Appropriations = $427M

Over the past year Audubon worked with coalition partners to demonstrate support for strong federal investment in coastal resilience, natural infrastructure, wetland restoration, water conservation, and responding to the threat of climate change. Now this work will travel to Audubon centers and offices and our on-the-ground partners to implement these critical conservation projects and ensure strong funding levels continue into the future.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Matt Smelser, matt.smelser@audubon.org, 512.739.9635

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.

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