Take "Green Scissors" to Wasteful Projects

National and Arizona Projects Targeted

(02/15/1996) - Defenders of Wildlife joined other conservation groups today in releasing Green Scissors '96, a report that recommends cutting 47 "economically wasteful and environmentally damaging" federal programs. The report contains recommendations to save nearly $39 billion in taxpayer dollars.

At a Green Scissors press conference today in Phoenix, Arizona, Defenders targeted two agricultural programs, the USDA Animal Damage Control Program (ADC) and the Wellton-Mohawk Gila River Flood Channel Project. In 1994, ADC agents killed almost 1,700 mammals (mostly coyotes) in Arizona alone, while the Welton-Mohawk irrigation project in southwest Arizona is a prime example of programs nationwide that "throw good money after bad." Cuts in these two programs alone would save taxpayers $168 million, according to Defenders of Wildlife.

Craig Miller, Defenders' Southwest Representative, said today: "Both ADC and Wellton-Mohawk are blatant federal subsidies for a handful of influential agricultural special interests. Most Arizonans would be outraged if they knew their tax dollars were being spent to promote killing wildlife and destroying habitat for endangered species."

Green Scissors '96 was released in Washington, D.C. and other cities today as part of an unusual collaboration between fiscal hawks such as Taxpayers for Common $ense and the Concord Coalition and environmental groups þ led by Friends of the Earth and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and including organizations such as Defenders of Wildlife that contributed expertise on various issues. These strange bedfellows have pledged a year-long "Green Scissors" campaign to carry out the report's recommendations.

Rodger Schlickeisen, President of Defenders of Wildlife, expressed his support for the Green Scissors Campaign because, "The current wrong-way Congress has taken virtually every opportunity to cut environmental programs under the guise of fiscal accountability. Green Scissors '96 gives Congress an equal chance to cut programs that are both wasteful and harmful to the environment. Most taxpayers want to pay to protect wildlife, not to kill wildlife."

Nationally, ADC's primary mission is to kill animals which might threaten livestock production. In 1994 alone, ADC agents killed almost 1,700 mammals in Arizona, including 1,528 coyotes, 14 mountain lions, 6 badgers, and 3 black bears. Nationally in 1994, ADC agents used traps, snares, poison, and aerial gunners to kill approximately 86,000 coyotes, 9,000 foxes, 2,000 bobcats, 300 mountain lions, and 170 black bears. Congress appropriated $36 million for the ADC program for 1996.

Miller noted that ADC, established by Congress on March 2, 1931, will turn 65 years old in just a few weeks. "It's time to retire ADC's antiquated livestock protection program," he said.

In addition to ADC, Green Scissors '96 also targets a $73 million flood control project for farmers in the Wellton-Mohawk irrigation district of southwestern Arizona. Most of Arizona's riparian areas have been destroyed or degraded by agriculture, livestock grazing, de-watering, and development, but thousands of acres along the Gila River have enjoyed a remarkable recovery, following a flood in 1993. Dozens of wildlife species are expected to benefit from the recovering riparian habitat.

But that recovery is being jeopardized by a handful of powerful landowners who have demanded permission to build a massive flood control project. They have also demanded federal funding for the project. Some recovering areas already have been bulldozed in preparation for new levees and a 56-mile long channel.

Miller stated, "The federal government has already pumped almost $1 billion into water and water-related projects for this one small area. The proposed Wellton-Mohawk project will permanently destroy extremely valuable wildlife habitat and provide very little economic benefit to taxpayers. It's just throwing good money into a bad project."

Green Scissors '96 targets wasteful and harmful programs and subsidies including needless water projects, unnecessary highways, polluting energy research and development, corporate subsidies, foreign aid projects, and agriculture programs. For each program, the report estimates the savings to taxpayers and describes the environmental harm. The report proposes terminating most of the programs, delaying a few, and instituting user fees for others. All told, the report's recommendations would save taxpayers nearly $39 billion.



Joan Moody, 202-682-9400 x220 (Media)
Craig Miller, 520-578-9334 (S. West)