"The core safeguards protecting our health
and our communities have been cut to the bone in recent years. And we can't
afford to keep slashing away," said Heather Taylor, deputy legislative
director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "We need new
investments in clean, renewable energy technologies that reduce our dependence
on foreign oil and cut global warming emissions."
"A budget isn't just dry numbers, it's a
clear picture of what is important to us as a nation. Healthy and safe
communities require a healthy environment, and that has got to be at the top of
our national priorities," said Peter Raabe, deputy director of government
affairs for American Rivers.
"Our nation's wildlife and wild places
areas are irreplaceable parts of our natural heritage," said Mary Beth
Beetham legislative affairs director for Defenders of Wildlife. "Each year,
Americans show how much they value that heritage by spending billions of their
own hard-earned dollars on wildlife-related recreation. It's time for Congress
and the White House to do their part and stop shortchanging important wildlife
conservation programs that benefit us all."
"Our nation's future security depends on
how well we defend our public health and environment today," said Sarah
Niemeyer of The Wilderness Society. "The health of our natural world is
directly linked to the health of our citizens and to their security in a rapidly
changing world. The threats we face, both from within and from without, call for
a renewed commitment from the president to dramatically increase funding for
protecting and restoring our environment."
Almost every government agency has had to deal
with the financial strain of budget cuts, but environmental protections have
suffered disproportionately. At the same time, programs that increase pollution
and threaten natural resources have received additional funding for destructive
activities such as logging in natural forests, excessive grazing on public lands
and handouts for an oil and gas industry that is currently posting record
The most drastic cuts have been made to the Land
and Water Conservation Fund, which creates parks and protects wilderness areas;
the Clean Water State Revolving Funds, which helps municipalities keep their
drinking water clean; the Weatherization Assistance Program of the Low-Income
Home Energy Assistance Program, which enables low-income families to permanently
reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient; and Farm
Bill conservation programs, which helps farmers and ranchers improve air, water
and soil quality and enhance habitat and wetland on their property.
The following groups authored this blueprint for
a safe and healthy budget: Alliance to Save Energy, American Rivers, Chesapeake
Bay Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Earth, National
Environmental Trust, National Parks Conservation Association, National Wildlife
Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Ocean Conservancy, Oceana,
Public Citizen, U.S. Public Interest Group, The Wilderness Society, and World
Experts from these groups will hold a telephone
briefing on the Bush administration's FY07 budget request on Wednesday,
February 8 at 1:00 p.m. EST. Details to follow.