Chair Grijalva Cheers Environmental Funding Bills as House Appropriators Provide Strong Conservation Support, Oversight of Trump Admin.

Washington D.C. May 22, 2019 – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today thanked the House Appropriations Committee for increasing environmental funding in a pair of fiscal year 2020 appropriations bills, which now head to the House floor. The Committee’s just-approved bills – one for Interior, Environment and Related Agencies and the other for Commerce, Justice and Science – provide crucial funding support for Department of the Interior and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conservation and science programs that President Trump’s budget proposal nearly eliminates.

“A Democratic majority in the House of Representatives means conservation and science get the funding they need, not starvation budgets and excuses about keeping Big Oil happy,” Grijalva said today. “What a government chooses to support should reflect what the people value, and these bills reflect the public demand for action on climate change and strong conservation of our natural resources. This is just the beginning of the work House Democrats are doing to protect our planet and make sure Americans have the highest quality of life possible.”

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Grijalva especially thanked Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey, Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Chair Betty McCollum, and Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Chair José Serrano for making environment quality – and oversight of the Trump administration’s environmental agenda – a priority.

Key Democratic priorities in the appropriations bills include:

Increased Oversight Funds for Department of the Interior

Nearly $56 million for the Office of Inspector General, approximately $4 million above the enacted level and $4 million above the president’s budget. Report language directs the Department to use the increase of funds to hire auditors, investigators and mission support staff to meet workload requirements.

$1 million increase for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. This increase is directed to be used for the hiring of additional personnel to assist the Department with its compliance and backlog of FOIA requests.

Halting Trump’s Department of Interior Reorganization

The Interior funding bill denies funding for President Trump’s unjustified reorganization of the Department of the Interior, noting in the bill, “On numerous occasions the Committee has sought background information to substantiate the costs of the reorganization but has not received even the most rudimentary data explaining how such costs eventually pay for themselves or translate into better service for the American public.”

Oil Leasing at the Department of the Interior

The bill requires the Department of the Interior to report all regulatory waivers, departures, and alternative compliances it approves when issuing offshore drilling permits.

The bill also requires the Department of the Interior to set a revenue floor for any Arctic National Wildlife Refuge lease sale in FY 2020. The provision requires a minimum bid necessary to meet the Administration’s unrealistic revenue projections.

Requiring Environmental Review For Boundary Waters

Language included in the bill specifies that no action to advance mining in the Boundary Waters area of Minnesota should occur until outstanding questions are answered and a key environmental study is completed and reviewed:

“Until the departments address the question of whether mining, especially copper-sulfide ore mining, is appropriate on National Forest System lands in the Rainy River Watershed, no action to advance mining in this area should occur… Accordingly, the Committee directs the Secretary of Agriculture, acting through the Forest Service, to reinstate and complete the Rainy River Watershed mineral withdrawal study…. Further, the Committee directs that the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture shall…forego taking any action that would advance mining within the watershed during the period of study and review.”

Funding our National Parks & Protecting Public Lands

The bill provides $523.9 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, including $244 million for the federal program and $280 million for state programs.  The total is $85 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level and $491 million above the president’s budget request.

$3.39 billion for the National Park Service, $168 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level and $649 million above the president’s budget request. Within this amount, the bill includes:

  • $2.65 billion for Operation of the National Park System, $144 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level and $221 million above the president’s budget request. This increase includes funding for 500 new staff at park units.
  • $74 million for National Recreation and Preservation, $9 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level and $41 million above the president’s budget request.
  • $122 million for the Historic Preservation Fund, $19 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level and $89 million above the president’s budget request. Within this amount, the bill includes $67 million for State and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, $16 million for Save America’s Treasures grants, $23 million for competitive grants to preserve the sites and stories of underrepresented community civil rights, and $10 million for grants to Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

$657 million for Deferred Maintenance, including Construction, Cyclic Maintenance, Repair and Rehabilitation activities, which is equal to the fiscal year 2019 enacted level and $135 million above the president’s budget request.

Indian Country Programs

$3.5 billion for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education, $432 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level and $739 million above the president’s budget request.

The bill accepts the proposed separation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education. Amounts below reflect the separation. Within the $3.5 billion, the bill includes:

  • $1.7 billion for operation of Bureau of Indian Affairs Operation of Indian Programs, $141 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level for the same programs and $188 million above the president’s budget request.
  • $146 million for Bureau of Indian Affairs Construction, $26 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level for the same programs and $88 million above the president’s budget request.
  • $12.8 million for the Indian Guaranteed Loan Program, $2 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level and $12 million above the president’s budget request.
  • $1 billion for Bureau of Indian Education Operation of Indian Programs, $96 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level for the same programs and $133 million above the president’s budget request.
  • $387 million to Bureau of Indian Education Construction, $149 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level for the same programs and $318 million above the president’s budget request.
  • Fully funds Contract Support Costs.

Increasing the Insular Affairs Budget

$117 million for the Office of Insular Affairs, $13 million above the 2019 enacted level and $33 million above the president’s budget request.

Protecting Wildlife and Endangered Species

$289 million for Ecological Services to support the implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), $37.2 million above the FY19 enacted level and $49 million above the president’s budget request. Within this amount, the bill includes:

  • $23.4 million for Species Listing, $5.1 million above FY19 enacted and $12.4 million above the president’s budget.
  • $113 million for Planning and Consultation, $6.9 million above FY19 enacted and $5.5 million above the president’s budget.
  • $34.7 million for Conservation and Restoration, $2.3 million above FY19 enacted and $8.2 million above the president’s budget.
  • $117.9 for Recovery, $22.8 million above FY19 and $22.9 million above the president’s budget.

A nearly $5 million increase for extinction prevention programs for critically endangered species at the brink of extinction:

“The Service is encouraged to use this increase to develop and support dedicated extinction prevention programs for critically endangered species at the brink of extinction, including, but not limited to, species such as listed Hawaiian plants and forest birds, freshwater mussels, and butterflies, and to report back to the Committee within 90 days of enactment of this Act on the establishment of these programs.”

The bill voices deep concern that Trump administration de-listing and down-listing decisions for endangered species are based more on politics than science. The bill includes language and funding to address this:

“The recommendation does not accept the proposed budget reductions for de-listing and down-listing, State of the Birds, White Nose Syndrome, Prescott Grant Program and Wolf Livestock Demonstration Program, and includes a total of $8,000,000 for Recovery Challenge grants.”

National Wildlife Refuge System Law Enforcement

The Interior funding bill provides $45.3 million for law enforcement of the National Wildlife Refuge System, which is intended to provide an additional 40 full-time positions to be dispersed nationwide to ensure every refuge has law enforcement coverage.

Protecting wildlife from the Proposed Border Wall

The bill requires the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to work with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense to provide a report to the Committee identifying the impacts of the Southern border wall on wildlife and imperiled species. Chair Grijalva strongly opposes the border wall proposal and thanked the Committee for acknowledging its severe environmental impacts.

NOAA Scientific Research and Public Partnerships

The bill denies the president’s request to eliminate several grant programs and public partnerships that help the country prepare for climate change and rising sea levels. The bill provides:

  • $81 million for Coastal Zone Management Grants, $5.5 million above 2019 enacted level. The president’s budget request eliminates the program.
  • $60 million for the Title IX Fund for coastal resilience, $30 million above the 2019 enacted level. The president’s budget request eliminates the program.
  • $73 million for the National Sea Grant College Program, $5 million above 2019 enacted level. The president’s budget request eliminates the program.
  • $12 million for Sea Grant’s Marine Aquaculture Program to research safe and sustainable aquaculture, the same as the 2019 enacted level. The president’s budget request eliminates the program. Report language encourages NOAA to partner with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to reach urban communities impacted by rising seafood prices.
  • $29 million for the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, $2 million above 2019 enacted levels. The president’s budget request eliminates the program.

NOAA Ability to Recover Protected Species

$325 million for marine mammal, sea turtle, Atlantic salmon, Pacific salmon, species recovery grants, and North Atlantic right whale recovery, $7.6 million above 2019 enacted levels and $18.9 million above the president’s budget request.

$65 million for Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery. The president’s budget request eliminates the program.

$73.5 million for fisheries enforcement, $3.7 million above 2019 enacted levels and $19.4 million above the president’s budget request.  This includes Joint Enforcement Agreements that leverage state and territorial law enforcement capabilities through the Cooperative Enforcement Program, which the president’s budget request would eliminate.