WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives passed a 2010 Interior Department funding bill today that increases the department’s budget by 17 percent over the 2009 level. The $32.3 billion legislation is a boon to important conservation programs like the National Wildlife Refuge System and to promoting scientific research on global warming.
“President Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress are continuing to reverse a decade of disinterest in land conservation,” said William H. Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society. “The Interior appropriations bill the House has approved restores our national commitment to protecting our natural heritage, and is a down payment on meeting the climate challenges ahead.”
Just six months into their control of the White House and Congress, Meadows commended the Democrats for increasing funding for a score of worthy causes. They include the following:
- $503 million for The National Wildlife Refuge System ($40 million over FY 09)
- Increases in overall wildfire suppression funding by $526 million (40 percent gain over FY 09)
- $74 million for the National Landscape Conservation System ($2 million over FY 09)
- $100 million for the Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Program
- $199 million for the federal side of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (an increase of $46.7 million over the FY 09 level of $152.3 million)
- $76 million for the Forest Legacy Program (an increase of $27 million over the FY 09 level)
- $2.7 billion ($27 million over the president’s request) for the National Park System
- $22 million in increases over FY 09 for priority climate change research at the U.S. Geological Survey
- A $5 million increase for climate change research at the Forest Service over FY 09
- $15 million for the National Global Warming and Wildlife Science Center at the U.S. Geological Survey for wildlife adaptation to climate change.
- $58 million to promote the development of renewable clean energy sources on federal lands and waters
Meadows credited Democratic Appropriations leaders for fending off amendments from Republicans that would have weakened the Interior funding bill. He specifically cited the work of Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), chairman of the Interior appropriations subcommittee and Rep. David Obey (D-WI), chairman of the full Interior appropriations committee.
“Representatives Dicks and Obey are true champions of our public lands,” Meadows said. “Even in this difficult economic climate, they made defending our nation against the effects of climate change a major priority.”
The Senate is set to begin marking up its version of the Interior spending bill after the July 4th recess. The Senate Interior allocation for FY 10 is $32.1 million, a $200 million decrease over the House allocation. This difference in funding allocations within the two Houses will necessitate a conference report to find a middle ground between the two bills, and TWS will be advocating for the higher funding levels put forth by the House.