Debt ceiling deal puts U.S. on brink of defaulting on environmental debt

Aug 1, 2011

The Wilderness Society said today that the congressional accord on the debt ceiling puts the U.S. on the brink of defaulting on what it terms the country’s skyrocketing “environmental debt.” The dramatically reduced spending on conservation and environmental programs the debt ceiling deal will induce poses a wide range of risks to human health and economic growth.

“Congress doesn’t deserve to thump its chest for reaching a debt ceiling compromise on a mess it created,” said William H. Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society. “The reductions in spending the deal causes will result in massive cuts that threaten to damage our water, our air and our lands beyond repair. This assault is part of a larger effort by some in Congress to give away our great outdoors to corporate polluters and developers, and it’s creating an environmental debt that we can’t repay.”

Meadows added that Congress is going about solving the debt problem the wrong way.

“This deal leaves huge, wasteful and unnecessary tax subsidies for the oil and gas industries untouched,” Meadows said.

With a debt ceiling agreement working its way toward a conclusion, Congress is expected to soon adjourn for August recess – abandoning its work on the Interior appropriations bill until September. Congress will then have to start working on a new Interior spending bill that uses the debilitating limitations imposed by the debt ceiling agreement.

“Congress continues to turn the thumb screws on our natural resources and on conservation funding,” Meadows said. “Congress had to reach an agreement on the debt ceiling issue but this is no cause for celebration. Now we’ll suffer the consequences of its failures to solve our fiscal and environmental problems before they reached crisis levels.”

Alan Rowsome