New Report Highlights Opportunities to Protect Health, Heritage, Environment and Economy While Eliminating Costly Tax Breaks

Feb 28, 2013

Rather than allowing devastating across-the-board cuts to conservation, preservation and environmental programs, the federal government should  cancel more than $760 billion of outdated tax breaks, according to a report released today by a coalition of environmental groups.

The report, “Losing Our Heritage: Budget Cut Impacts and Our Environment,” outlines how clean air, clean water, and other benefits of environmental and land conservation are threatened by the indiscriminate budget cuts under current budget  planning.

Through health benefits, recreation values, and ecosystem services, environmental, preservation  and conservation programs are responsible for trillions of dollars of economic  activity, tens of  thousands of jobs and  considerable value to American society.  However, the programs that provide these benefits account for only 1.26% of the total federal budget.

Among the programs and benefits at risk under  the budget  negotiations  in Washington  are:

  • Clean Air and Clean Water rules that saved Americans between $21-$168 billion thanks to health benefits.

  • $1.6 trillion in ecosystem services – like the water supplies for 66 million Americans that come from National Forests.

  • The  $646 billion spent for  outdoor recreation that generates $1.6 trillion in total economic activity and 12 million U.S. jobs.

  • Irreparable damage to our nation’s wildlife heritage, a resource that is treasured by the American people.

To avoid harmful cuts to the programs that provide these benefits, the groups recommend ending or adjusting more than $760 billion in outdated tax breaks, loopholes, and subsidies. Many are for established industries that are not in need of  continued taxpayer -paid government support.

Instead of allowing indiscriminate cuts to proven programs, Congress should look to these outdated tax expenditures.

Read the report “Losing Our Heritage: Budget Cut Impacts and Our Environment


“Rather than undermining billions of dollars in economic activity and trillions in ecosystem services, Congress should cut tax breaks for fossil fuels. Programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program have shown proven results, and are a better value for American taxpayers,” – Alan Rowsome, The Wilderness Society

“The last minutes of the 11th hour loom ever closer and time is running out for Congress to set aside their differences and restore some sanity to the budget process for this country.  This report shows the destructive impact sequestration will have on important federal conservation work.  But it also offers a solution: changing old and outdated tax expenditures that result in billions in lost revenue, without hurting these vital programs.  If our lawmakers are too entrenched in partisan squabbles to recognize this opportunity, people, communities and wildlife will pay a severe and devastating price.” –Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife

"This report demonstrates how the sequestration will upend the hard work by the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management and other government agencies in conserving our nation's natural treasures for future generations," said Cindy Shogan, Executive Director, Alaska Wilderness League. "Instead of jeopardizing recreation and tourism, wildlife and Alaska Native subsistence on our public lands, Congress should work to end subsidies and kickbacks to Big Oil and truly ensure that our public lands and their intrinsic values remain in the public's hands now and forever."

“Make no mistake,” said Franz Matzner, associate director for Government Affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, “the arbitrary, across-the-board cuts that will reduce our food inspections, lock gates at our national parks, dirty our drinking water and throw hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work are not because of Washington gridlock. They are the  product of the  GOP protecting loopholes for millionaires and subsidies for oil companies. Republicans in Congress should help curb the deficit  by removing outdated subsidies, beginning with  ending at least $8 billion in annual subsidies to  oil companies. They should cut these taxpayer giveaways that pad already prodigious oil company profits, not take away support for our children, our health, our treasured lands and our heritage.”

The report was produced by the following organizations Alaska Wilderness League * American Bird Conservancy * American Forests * American Hiking Society American Rivers * Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies * Bat Conservation International Chesapeake Bay Foundation * Defenders of Wildlife * Friends of the Earth * IOOS Association *League of Conservation Voters * Marine Conservation Institute * National Audubon Society *National Marine Sanctuary Foundation * National Parks Conservation Association * National Wildlife Refuge Association * Natural Resources Defense Council * National Trust for Historic Preservation * National Wildlife Federation * Oceana * Ocean Conservancy * Population Action International * Restore America’s Estuaries * Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition * Southern Alliance for Clean Energy * The Trust for Public Land * The Wilderness Society * World Wildlife Fund