America needs to invest in programs that protect our lands, waters and natural heritage

May 23, 2017

The Trump budget would open up for drilling the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, home to the Porcupine Caribou Herd, polar bears and other wildlife. 

Florian Schulz
Statement from Wilderness Society responding to Trump 2018 budget

At a time when America’s parks and other public lands desperately need greater investments and protections, the proposed Trump budget represents a retreat from common sense. Thoughtless cuts proposed for federal land agencies fly in the face of the public’s love for shared national lands and waters.

Instead, President Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget would merely reward the fossil fuel industry and anti-conservationists who view America’s public lands as a fast track to private profiteering for a handful of special interests. Fortunately, we believe this failed budget blueprint will be dead on arrival in Congress, and we know Americans will speak out against selling out the public lands and waters that should be the inheritance of our children and grandchildren.

Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

This budget includes a toxic policy rider that Congress has rejected for decades: drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  The Arctic Refuge is the wildest place left in America, and the American people have rallied to defend it since its creation.  The Trump Administration has tucked it into its budget guidance to once again deliver a gift to the oil lobby rather than protecting this pristine landscape for the American people and future generations.  Any receipts from oil drilling in the Refuge are highly speculative and wouldn’t come on line for years.  This is not a serious attempt to balance a budget; this is an attempt to drill for oil one of the last pristine, untouched landscapes in America.

Land and Water Conservation Fund

This budget would do real, irreversible damage to the national parks and public lands that are beloved by the American people.  Moreover, these cuts would not save taxpayers any money.  LWCF is not funded by taxpayer dollars but from fees collected from offshore oil and gas drillers.  The budget would siphon off nearly all of those dedicated conservation dollars for unrelated spending, breaking a 50-year-old promise to the American people that the royalties generated from offshore oil and gas drilling are reinvested into protecting our national parks, providing hunting and fishing access, trails and open spaces. We hope and expect that Congress will reject this outrageous and damaging recommendation.

Cuts to Federal Land Management Agencies and Programs

The nation’s land management agencies have seen their budgets cut and their workforces dwindle for years. This had led to many tough decisions: reduced visitor services and recreational investments, reduced scientific research and monitoring, compromised conservation and management decisions, growing maintenance backlogs, and other impacts. There is a significant and growing need for Congress and the Administration to invest in conservation programs.

Conservation and natural resource programs account for barely one percent of the federal budget, yet they provide invaluable benefits: clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, a booming outdoor recreation economy, vibrant wildlife populations, resilient ecosystems, and renewable energy that powers a clean, sustainable future.

Americans deserve a federal budget that protects public health, prioritizes conservation, and ensures that the world we leave our children is cleaner, healthier and more sustainable than the one we inherited.

The Wilderness Society, founded in 1935, is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. With more than one million members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. www.wilderness.org.   

Contacts:

Cameron Witten, Government Relations and Budget Specialist, 202-429-8458, 240-893-2352 cell, Cameron_witten@tws.org

Michael Reinemer, Deputy Director, Communications,Michael_reinemer@tws.org, 202-429-3949, 703-966-9574 cell