Group backs Corzine-Kerry efforts to save vital programs
WASHINGTON (April 5, 2001) - Applauding efforts by some members of Congress to block devastating cuts in environmental safeguards, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) today called on the Senate to reject President Bush's proposed budget on the environment.
"The Bush blueprint for the environment is shortsighted and especially shortchanges our children," said Wesley Warren, an NRDC senior fellow for environmental economics. "NRDC calls on Congress to support amendments by Senators Corzine and Kerry to the budget resolution to provide badly needed money for environmental protection." The Senate today will vote on the Corzine and Kerry amendments.
The Bush budget proposal would slash total environmental spending by a whopping $52.5 billion, or 15.4 percent, over the next 10 years. The Senate budget resolution, which includes these cuts, reduces potential funding for mitigating climate change; enforcing federal pollution laws; establishing standards to protect air, water and food quality; preserving wildlife and habitat; and combating urban sprawl.
The budget resolution's funding for fiscal year 2002 on the environment is $3.3 billion, or 11 percent below this year's level. NRDC expects those cuts to include approximately $500 million for the Environmental Protection Agency, $400 million for the Department of Interior, and $600 million for the U.S. Forest Service. Inflation will further erode the purchasing power of these agencies unless adjustments are made in these budgets.
The budget also would gouge clean energy initiatives, such as Department of Energy energy-efficiency programs that would serve the nation's energy needs, save consumers money, and reduce greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Such cuts would make it even more difficult for President Bush to address climate change, especially after he flip-flopped on his campaign pledge to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and rejected the Kyoto Protocol.
Despite progress on the environment, 40 percent of the nation's waters still are unsafe for fishing and swimming, 100 million Americans still breathe dirty air that does meet Clean Air Act standards, and millions of acres of open space are threatened by development.
"Budget cuts of this magnitude will seriously hamper efforts to fight global warming, ensure the purity of our food, protect the public from air pollution, and set adequate drinking water standards for contaminants like arsenic," said Warren. "We should be adding to these efforts, not subtracting from our future. Once these federal resources are gone, we may never get them back."