No More Slash and Burn Budgeting: The Green Budget Takes a Smarter Approach

In the wake of the House Majority’s extreme budget bill, which made severe cuts to conservation, it’s clear that we need a better blueprint for the budget going forward.  The Wilderness Society, working together with a host of other conservation groups, has created that blueprint with the release of the Green Budget.

Read the group release on the Green Budget

This budget doesn’t take a slash-and-burn approach to budgeting.  Instead of cutting programs back, or even zeroing them out, the Green Budget looks uses smart investments to strengthen public health and economic growth.  That smarter approach includes eliminating subsidies for wealthy oil and gas companies in order to fund investments in protections for land and natural resources. It would also take $900 million from offshore drilling revenues and investment it in the Land and Water Conservation Fund to protect hunting and fishing access, provide outdoor recreation, and strengthen local economies.

This kind of smarter, greener budgeting has never been more important or more urgent.  The House Majority’s bill, which passed in February, is a severe assault on wildlands, wildlife, and our environment. 

Now attention turns to the Senate, where, if the same cuts are passed, we will see severe slashing of the EPA’s ability to limit greenhouse gases and the Bureau of Land Management’s new Wild Lands policy, which restores protections to millions of acres of wilderness quality lands across the West.

Help us stop this severe assault on wildlands, wildlife, and the environment.  Urge your senators to stand firmly for the environment and to urge the Senate to stand firm against these cuts.  If passed, this radical legislation would:

  • block the Interior Department’s new policy that restores protection to millions of acres of wilderness-quality public lands across the West;
  • cut the EPA’s budget by 30 percent and cripple the agency’s ability to reduce greenhouse gases that endanger public health and contribute to global warming;
  • slash the Land and Water Conservation Fund by 87 percent;
  • eliminate $1.2 billion in science funding needed to move away from fossil fuels towards sustainable, non-polluting sources of energy;
  • prohibit the EPA from enforcing Clean Water Act protections for thousands of American streams and wetlands;
  • eliminate the North America Wetlands Conservation Fund;
  • open up national forests to greater damage by ORVs.
  • cut 50 percent from current cleanup efforts in the Chesapeake Bay, Puget Sound, Long Island Sound, Great Lakes and Lake Champlain;
  • eliminate all funding for the Forest Legacy Program, which restores ecosystems damaged by logging and other forms of development;
  • cripple Endangered Species recovery efforts;
  • prohibit the Forest Service from spending funds to manage and enforce off-road vehicle use on our national forests -- unmanaged ORV use was recognized by the Bush administration as one of the top threats to forests;
  • drastically reduce, by nearly 50%, crucial funding for the Forest Service to improve drinking water by removing old, unused logging roads from our forests and maintaining needed roads and trails.

Meanwhile, the bill leaves untouched $4 billion in annual oil, gas and coal subsidies! That’s a reckless approach to budgeting, and it’s exactly why we need a new, better blueprint for budgeting in Washington: The Green Budget. This is a critical moment for everyone who supports our wild lands to demand a budget that works for wilderness, for our public health, and for our economy.

Please, tell your senators to oppose the 2011 House spending bill. Click here to send your letter.

Photo: Icicle Canyon in the Wenatchee Forest, Washington. Courtesy USFS.