Obama budget continues strong commitment to natural resources during first 100 days

May 12, 2009

WASHINGTON – President Obama has unveiled his federal spending plan proposal for FY 2010, reflecting his administration’s strong commitment to natural resources and the environment, according to conservation and environmental leaders.

The president’s budget for FY 2010 is another important step in restoring much needed funding to programs hard hit in recent years, and also demonstrates the administration’s dedication to take on global warming and transition our economy to a new energy future.

The following is an analysis of the president’s spending plan by policy experts at several of the nation’s leading conservation and environmental advocacy organizations:

Department of Energy

The president’s budget is a positive next step in transforming our energy economy as it requests significant new funding for early-stage clean energy innovation, and aggressively boosts both Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability (EDER) and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) funding. In addition to the $4.5 billion EERE received via the recent economic recovery bill, the FY 2010 budget request would increase this account by another 40% to $2 billion.

President Obama’s budget also eliminates a number of oil and gas subsidies and reduces fossil energy research and development activities. The community looks forward to working with the Administration to further reduce those accounts focused on polluting, out-dated technologies.

Environmental Protection Agency

The president's budget gets serious about addressing our nation's crippling water infrastructure by more than tripling the Clean Water State Revolving Fund over FY 2009 ($2.4B) and almost doubling the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund ($1.5B) while modernizing our water infrastructure by investing 20 percent of those funds in green solutions to polluted run-off and efficient water supply that will aid communities in their preparation and adaptation to climate change.

The president's EPA budget is consistent with recent statements made by Administrator Jackson that make clear that EPA will develop a Greenhouse Gas mandatory reporting rule and start implementation activities necessary for the rule. The budget also makes clear that EPA will continue to work on establishing a new Renewable Fuels Standard.

The FY 2010 budget includes approximately $600 million for EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance program, representing the highest enforcement budget ever, and a $32 million increase over the FY 2009 enacted level.

Department of Interior

The administration has signaled clear support for a clean energy future and combating global warming in the budget for the Department of the Interior. A total of $133 million is devoted to the science of climate impacts and natural resource adaptation to help wildlife and ecosystems in a warming world. An additional $50 million is proposed to help our economy transition to clean energy by investing in wind, solar and geothermal development.

The president continued his support for the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF); the blueprint allocates $216 million for the program, a modest increase over the FY 2009 level of $171 million. LWCF is authorized by Congress to receive up to $900 million annually, an amount that would truly begin to fulfill critical acquisition needs.

Increases in operations and maintenance budgets for the Bureau of Land Management continue the incremental gain this agency has so desperately needed. The Fish & Wildlife Service received an additional $77 million for FY 2010, but with the deep cuts the National Wildlife Refuge System has weathered over the past few years, more than the $20 million additional funds allocated to the system will be needed to provide basic recreation and education opportunities in these habitats.

Strong commitment to the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund ($10 million over FY 2009) and the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund ($20 million over FY 2009) within the Fish & Wildlife Service are important steps forward to help protect threatened and endangered species to recover.

The president’s budget proposal includes an increase of $135 million to operate and maintain our national parks and also provides $25 million for the parks’ public-private partnership program, which is awaiting authorization by Congress. Moreover, the president's initial investment in a 21st Century Youth Conservation Corps is a positive step toward engaging and training the next generation of national park stewards.

National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration

The new administration has continued the recent trend of funding climate and atmospheric science, satellites, and Magnuson-Stevens Act implementation. While this $4.47 billion budget showcases an increase in budget over recent years (and a slight increase over the $4.4 billion in FY 2009), there is still room for improvement in the conservation programs of NOAA.

While NOAA continues to fulfill its mandate of monitoring the U.S. waters for the effects of global warming, funds to support the drastic changes due to climate change likely to occur in our oceans is critical. Funding conservation programs within NOAA can help offset the future ramifications of climate change. Funding climate adaptation to address sea level rise, coral bleaching and changes in sea temperature are also imperative. In order to make a national commitment to addressing the effects of climate change, research and monitoring should be substantially funded and cannot come from an existing agencies budget. However, conservation programs cannot be overlooked in favor of a single/concerted, etc. focus on climate programs, as improving, maintaining, and conserving ocean habitats and marine ecosystem function will help us deal with the inevitable climate change consequences.

Department of Agriculture

The new administration made good on its commitment to the Department of Agriculture’s alternative energy program, including doubling the Rural Energy for America Program. Unfortunately the proposal for many of the private lands conservation programs operated by the Natural Resources Conservation Service fall short of the amounts that were newly authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. The administration requests $250 million less than the authorized amount for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, $43 million less than the authorized amount for the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, $30 million less than the authorized amount for the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, and doesn't allow for a robust amount of acres to be available for sign up in the Wetlands Reserve Program. The Conservation Stewardship Program, Grassland Reserve Program, Conservation Reserve Program, and several smaller programs were left unscathed.

The President’s FY 2010 Forest Service budget proposes a new initiative funded at $50 million to 1) protect investments made by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, 2) implement travel planning that emphasizes road decommissioning, and 3) address urgent facilities maintenance. Increases to the Forest Legacy Program ($34 million) and $50 million allocated to the Legacy Roads and Trails Program also highlight the administration’s commitment to improving ecosystem health through land protection and reducing the forest road system. The budget also proposes a $282 million contingency reserve fund for Forest Service and $75 million for BLM for wildfire suppression, which would help to reduce the need for emergency supplemental funding and more importantly alleviate the agencies’ need to transfer and debilitate other critical agency programs.

Ecosystem Restoration - Environmental Protection Agency

The president is following through on his promise to increase funding for restoration of the Great Lakes by establishing and funding a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $475 million in FY 2010. The initiative will address issues that continue to plague the Great Lakes including aquatic invasive species, contaminated sediment, and non point source pollution.

The EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program shows an increase in funding to $35.1 million, $4.1 million over FY 2009. With the health of the Bay still in sharp decline this funding is vital to achieving necessary water quality standards and total maximum daily loads to put the Bay ecosystem back on track.

Ecosystem Restoration – Army Corps of Engineers

The new administration has demonstrated a strong commitment to the restoration of America’s Everglades through substantially increased funding, to the tune of $155 million, for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). This funding, which will be used to put CERP projects into motion, is critical to moving restoration forward. In addition, the administration has identified $60 million for additional South Florida ecosystem restoration not included in CERP, a $20 million increase over FY 09 funding levels and another much needed boost for Everglades restoration.

Department of Transportation

President Obama’s Department of Transportation budget acknowledges that America's current transportation system is environmentally and economically unsustainable. The new Administration has recognized that we need real transportation reform, with a focus on creating more jobs, more livable communities, and accountability for greenhouse gas pollution. Cities and states around the country are already beginning to experiment with new ideas, and Congress must seek to encourage such innovation across America.

The president's budget also shows that America will need to open the door to new ideas about financing to solve this crisis. If Congress fails to do this, the Highway Trust Fund will require a $36 billion dollar bailout in 2010, in addition to the $8 billion General Fund transfer that Congress provided last year. It's time to create a new, stable, fair transportation funding system that creates incentives a cleaner, less-congested transportation system.

Green Budget

Each year the nation’s leading energy and environmental groups released the annual “Green Budget” for the coming fiscal year. The Green Budget outlines the most critical funding needs, and highlights areas where even a small amount of money will pay huge dividends when it comes to protecting our air, water, climate, public health and wildlife.

The Green Budget is available at: http://www.saveourenvironment.org/

The Green Budget was created by the following organizations:
Alaska Wilderness League, American Lands Alliance, American Rivers, Audubon, Clean Water Action, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Coastal States Organization, Conservation Law Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, Endangered Species Coalition, Environment America, Environmental Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth, League of Conservation Voters, Marine Conservation Biology Institute, Marine Fish Conservation Network, National Parks Conservation Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Tribal Environmental Council, National Wildlife Federation, Oceana, Ocean Conservancy, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Save Our Wild Salmon, The Wilderness Society, and World Wildlife Fund.