In June, the U.S. House passed a series of spending bills with numerous wins for birds. These bills provide the funding for critical conservation programs that benefit birds and people, and also issue guidance from Congress on important measures that impact bird conservation.
The first House legislative package would increase spending levels in the 2020 fiscal year for priority water conservation and clean energy programs. It expands support for projects in the Everglades and the Gulf of Mexico, including additional funding for restoration projects in Louisiana, and a record-level $200 million in funding for Everglades restoration. It increases funding for clean energy in the Department of Energy, including a $273 million increase over last year’s funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, with substantial new funding for renewable energy.
The second House package increases funding for critical programs in the Department of the Interior (DOI), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It increases conservation programs such as the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act by 26 percent over last year, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act by 19 percent, and Land and Water Conservation Fund by 20 percent. It provides record funding to the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program, and increases ecosystem and estuary funding for the EPA through programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, coastal grant funding for NOAA, and watershed funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The bills also provide important guidance and limitations for federal agencies on certain programs and activities that impact bird conservation. Provisions include new requirements for lease sales in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to ensure accountability on projected revenues, limits on certain offshore drilling and old-growth logging activities, and encouragement for the adoption of standards to reduce bird collisions with public buildings. In addition, the House approved language expressing concern over the rollback of the Migratory Bird Treating Act and directing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to report on enforcement actions relating to MBTA.
Next, the Senate will take up its own spending legislation and reconcile their version with the House legislation before it can be signed into law. Audubon encourages the adoption of these important wins for birds and people in the final legislation.