Stop the Harmful Provisions of HR 1 (new)
In late February the House drafted and passed a bill that would wipe out years of progress that TU – its volunteers, staff and partners – have made on some of our toughest habitat challenges, and cut severely into federal resource agency funding programs. A funding bill should not contain them, but the bill’s ill-conceived legislative provisions contain the following harmful items:
- Removing funding for the Klamath River Dam Removal and Sedimentation Study, a necessary step to evaluate removing four dams and reopening 350 miles of salmon habitat and resolve the long-running conflict in the Klamath Basin.
- Stopping the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA from conducting a rulemaking to restore Clean Water Act protection for some wetlands and streams which were curtailed by two harmful and confusing Supreme Court decisions, Rapanos (2006) and SWANCC (2001).
- Discontinuing rulemaking processes designed to protect streams from mountaintop removal mining.
- Removing the EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act to veto Army Corps authorized permits for the disposal of dredge and fill material and to designate as off limits certain areas for disposal of dredge and fill material.
- Preventing the use of federal funds to implement certain Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction programs, which help to restore coldwater habitat in the headwater areas of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
- Blocking the U.S. Forest Service’s Travel Management Plans, which were developed to prevent uncontrolled off-road vehicle use from damaging fish and wildlife habitat.
- De-funding the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act, a law enacted last year with strong bipartisan support, which represents a broad coalition of restoration partners.
The bill also cuts funding for vital conservation programs. Nobody disputes that spending must be reduced to cut our nation’s deficit, and sportsmen conservationists are willing to shoulder our share of the burden. But a disproportionate level of cuts should not be saddled on programs of critical value to sportsmen. HR 1 cuts discretionary non-military spending by roughly 13 percent, but reduces funding for key conservation programs by as much as 90 or 100%. Following is a list of such reductions:
- Eliminates funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, a highly successful, landscape scale, partnership-driven effort;
- Cuts the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which enables conservation of habitats through purchase of fee title or easements from willing sellers around the nation, by $393 million from FY 2010 levels—a cut of roughly 90%. Potentially hundreds of acres of land could fail to be conserved if this funding cut became law;
- Cuts the National Fish Habitat program, one of the best landscape scale fisheries habitat conservation programs in the federal government, by 28%;
- Drastically cuts funding for Great Lakes restoration;
- Eliminates funding for the State Fish and Wildlife Grants program, a bedrock partnership between state fish and wildlife agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service;
- Cuts important Farm Bill conservation programs. Permanently cuts the Wetland Reserve Program by almost 50,000 acres and cuts the Environmental Quality Incentives Program by more than $350 million from authorized levels.
In the next two weeks, the Senate, House and the president will be working to negotiate a deal on a spending bill for the rest of the year. All the harmful provisions above are still on the negotiating table. Now is the time to make our voices heard.