The fiscal year 2014 budget released by President Obama shows a clear understanding of the economic benefits of conservation, according to The Wilderness Society.
“In a budget full of hard decisions, the increased request for conservation funding shows the continued commitment of this administration to support programs that benefit local economies and the environment,” said Alan Rowsome, director of conservation funding at The Wilderness Society. “Conservation makes up only 1.25% of the federal budget, but the benefits of it are measured in the trillions of dollars.”
Among the highlights of the budget were strong requests for:
- Land and Water Conservation Fund - $900 million: Guaranteeing dedicated funding to the conservation program begins to reverse the trend of the program (which is funded with offshore oil revenues) being raided for other projects. The program is one of few that enjoys broad, bi-partisan support.
- Collaborative Forest Restoration Program - $40 million: Expected full funding for this program creates jobs and improves communities by restoring forests damaged by fire, logging, and other destruction.
- Renewable energy programs - $100 million: Essential funding for permitting and planning activities for clean energy projects on public lands to help move away from climate change causing fossil fuels.
In addition to promoting conservation programs that create jobs and improve the environment, President Obama’s budget also closes tax loopholes that have allowed oil and gas companies to pay less than their fair share of taxes.
“At a time that the entire federal budget is under scrutiny, keeping tax breaks and loopholes for some of the most profitable companies in history doesn’t make sense. At the same time, by requesting strong funding for conservation programs, the President is making a commitment supporting conservation and recreation, and supporting the economy that goes with them,” said Rowsome.