Authors Say Leaders Must Overcome Habitual Budget Cutting in Key Areas

WASHINGTON (February 2, 2006) - Citing chronic underfunding of vital public health and environmental safeguards, fifteen environmental groups today called on President Bush and the Congress to invest critically-needed funds to ensure Americans have clean air and water, and to preserve our natural landscapes and the wildlife that depend on them.

The groups released a budget blueprint outlining their priorities and recommendations for the federal government's FY07 budget. The blueprint, titled "A Green Budget for a Healthy America," addresses repeated funding cuts of almost $1.3 billion (adjusted for inflation) that have plagued many important initiatives in recent years.

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"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 profits.

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 Wildlife Fund.