Statement on President Obama’s FY10 Budget Outline

Feb 26, 2009

By William H. Meadows, President, The Wilderness Society

Today’s White House announcement of the president’s federal budget framework for FY 2010 brings evidence that President Obama and his administration are committed to protecting our nation’s lands, air, and water and the human communities that depend on them. Today’s budget announcement also makes clear that the oil and gas industry will not continue to enjoy a taxpayer-funded feast at the expense of America’s public lands and waters. Following his strong statement on climate when he addressed Congress on Tuesday night, the President today offered further confirmation that it’s not business-as-usual in Washington when it comes to fighting global warming pollution.

Today’s budget announcement also makes clear that the oil and gas industry will not continue to enjoy a taxpayer-funded feast at the expense of America’s public lands and waters. Following his strong statement on climate when he addressed Congress on Tuesday night, the President today offered further confirmation that it’s not business-as-usual in Washington when it comes to fighting global warming pollution.

The administration deserves special praise for pressing ahead with action on climate. The budget revenues assumed from a cap on pollution and an auction of carbon credits are a clear signal that President Obama intends to end the current practice of allowing polluters to dump their greenhouse gases in the environment for free. As the administration has proposed, these revenues can and should be used for the benefit of the public, including protecting the land and water systems on which all human health depends.

We also applaud the reforms proposed by the administration to the federal government’s oil and gas leasing programs. These reforms will help assure that taxpayers get a fair return for the oil and gas extracted from our public lands and waters.

The administration’s request to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund over the next five years will allow land management agencies to acquire and conserve new parks and public lands that do not yet have the protection they deserve. The LWCF has been ignored for far too long, and we applaud the President’s recognition of the critical importance of this program.

In recent years, the increasing costs of fighting wildfires in and around our national forests have taken much-needed funding away from other crucial Forest Service and Interior Department programs. By creating new wildfire reserve accounts, the administration will ensure that fire suppression is properly funded, while reducing the need to borrow from other agency programs. This will allow important projects like road and trail maintenance, campgrounds, and habitat enhancement to proceed. In addition, the Forest Service budget has been adjusted to account for inflation for the first time in years, a reflection of the administration’s commitment to meeting the needs of the agency and the American public.

Finally, we are pleased that the President has increased funding for National Park Service staff, who are integral to ensuring protection for our natural wonders. The additional $100 million in the Park Service budget will support the administration’s commitment to address the maintenance backlog through the recently passed stimulus package.