[audubon-news] Audubon Reacton to Bush '05 Budget

  • From: "BIANCHI, John" <JBIANCHI@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <audubon-news@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 4 Feb 2004 15:15:12 -0500

Contact: John Bianchi


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 

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 

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.

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