Contact: John Bianchi 212/979-3026 jbianchi@xxxxxxxxxxx AUDUBON REACTS TO BUSH ADMINISTRATION '05 BUDGET Budget Rewards Special Interests at Expense of America's Great Natural Heritage Washington, DC, Wednesday, February 4, 2004 - The Fiscal Year 2005 budget released earlier this week by the Bush Administration weakens environmental protections and cuts programs critical to protecting America's great natural heritage. Though there is some good news, it is outweighed by provisions that weaken environmental protections and reduce the security that our drinking water, air, and natural habitats remain safe. "This Administration and some in Congress are out of touch with the American people on environmental issues, and this budget is part and parcel of that fundamental disconnect," said Bob Perciasepe, Chief Operating Officer for National Audubon Society. "Drilling for oil in our natural treasures like the Arctic Refuge and slashing funding for the Environmental Protection Agency is no way to provide the environmental leadership this country needs." There is a small amount of good news: the Administration's proposal offers modest increases for critical conservation programs in the states, including a $28 million increase in funding for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project in Florida, and an $8 million increase for on-going efforts to restore the Upper Mississippi River in Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa. However, this is outweighed by provisions that damage the environment, including slashes in funding for America's National Wildlife Refuge System - just one year after a 100th Anniversary celebration in which the Administration touted its commitment and pledged its support to protecting these bird and wildlife havens. The Administration also cuts funding for implementing the Endangered Species Act by more than $7 million. When President Bush was elected in 2000, he pledged to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund program. This budget fails to live up to his promises: despite statements to the contrary, funding for LWCF land conservation projects is actually almost $600 million shy of full funding - a huge shortfall. The budget incorporates revenue generated from oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to give gifts back to election year contributors, including big oil companies. This is also out of step with political reality, as the senate has voted down drilling in the arctic refuge twice in past two years. The Budget continues to follow Administration precedent of slashing the Environmental Protection Agency's budget, and hamstrings EPA from carrying out its responsibility of holding industry accountable for blatant Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act violations. Lastly, the budget continues to fund the misleadingly labeled "Healthy Forests Initiative" - a program that offers far more for the health of timber companies and loggers than it does for the health and safety of neighboring communities and the forests. The Administration's proposal now moves to Congress, where the U.S. House and Senate will review the President's funding requests, and make the final determinations for the country. "Our challenge now is to work with Members of Congress to ensure that programs that protect our environment and our country's natural heritage are not sacrificed to special interests," Perciasepe concluded. Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Our national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences. # # # You are subscribed to Audubon-News. To unsubscribe, send email to audubon-news-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' in the Subject field. To adjust other settings (vacation, digest, etc.) please visit, http://www.freelists.org/list/audubon-news.