"Green Budget" lays out vision for public health, economic growth

Avoiding government shutdown two weeks at a time not the way to go

President Obama told reporters last week that, "We can’t keep on running the government based on a two-week extension ... That's irresponsible". He was referring to the stopgap measures Congress is taking to keep the government running by extending what's known as a continuing resolution.

The House made it clear it wasn't listening because it responded March 11 by releasing its next short-term continuing resolution that would keep the government running until April 8. House Republican leadership proposes to cut $2 billion of vital programs and services each week it extends the resolution. The resolution continues the assault on public health and economic growth by making drastic cuts to the Department of Interior, EPA, Department of Agriculture and more. The House proposal reduces or eliminates a total of 25 programs that support the air we breathe, water we drink, places we turn to for recreation and that protect land for wildlife we care about.

Clearly, Congress is under tremendous pressure to finalize this year’s budget, which is already half over. Fortunately, the conservation and environmental community recently released Green Budget -- our report to Congress that offers help by way of funding recommendations for fiscal years 2011 and 2012. (Check out our Green Budget press release.) The Green Budget provides Congress with the means to make justified and responsible choices in a timely fashion without compromising our nation’s safety or economic health. In fact, the Green Budget supports quality investments with high returns and helps Congress reduce federal spending by recommending offsets and cuts to ineffective programs and subsidies.

The Green Budget recommended offsets will save taxpayers over $118 billion over the next five years. Examples of program and subsidy cuts include cutting funding for wasteful and environmentally damaging Army Corps of Engineers water projects, saving taxpayers $1 billion annually, and a plan to enforce Gulf of Mexico oil and gas company taxes that will provide $7 billion new dollars over the next 5 years.

The Green Budget is a comprehensive, well-reasoned document that appeals to all Americans. With representation from a wide array of viewpoints, including hunters, anglers, biologists and local experts, the report includes a wide array of important programs. These recommendations will benefit every American that appreciates breathing fresh air, drinking clean water, being outdoors and leading a healthy lifestyle.

What does all of this mean for everyone who loves the outdoors and our natural resources? It is important to continue funding the government and attempts to shut it down are irresponsible. That being said, Congress has launched a historic assault on our lands, waters and wildlife, and these congressional tactics are holding our national treasures hostage. The long-term solution already exists: Let's follow the blueprint the Green Budget provides.

Photo: A National Park Service ranger leads an educational program at Jamaica Bay, near Brooklyn, New York.