WASHINGTON, DC (July 23, 2013)- As the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the FAIR Act, legislation to expand federal-state revenue sharing from federal energy production, it was announced that the legislation was estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to deprive the federal treasury of $6 billion over eight years. Meanwhile, the House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations subcommittee passed a 2014 funding bill that would be catastrophic for wildlife and natural resource protection in the United States.
The following is a statement from Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark:
“This Senate revenue sharing proposal would create a huge economic incentive for coastal states to encourage more environmentally-damaging offshore drilling, while at the same time depriving the federal treasury of a CBO-estimated six billion dollars in revenue over eight years.
“It is ironic that this massive and costly anti-wildlife proposal is being considered on the same day that, under the guise of fiscal austerity, the House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee approved an appropriations bill that cuts spending for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by a whopping 27%.
“The House bill is also chock-full of riders that undermine the protection of our precious natural resources. Its funding levels betray the trust we have placed in our lawmakers to preserve our unique wild heritage for future generations. As it stands, the bill is an insult the American people on behalf of special interests.
“Both the Landrieu-Murkowski revenue sharing proposal and the House appropriations bill are breathtaking in their irresponsibility. It is now more vital than ever that we fight such harmful legislation and preserve our unique wild heritage for future generations.”
The FY14 Interior Appropriations Bill
The House FY 2014 Interior appropriations bill cuts overall funding nearly 19 percent below the already meager amounts provided in FY 2013, further constraining natural resource agency budgets stretched to their breaking point. The bill actually zeroes out funding for vital programs, such as land acquisition and grants that fund work to protect wetlands, migratory birds and declining wildlife. It also prohibits the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from spending any money on its signature initiative to address large scale, complex threats to natural resources such as climate change, drought and invasive species. Overall, funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service would be cut by a devastating 27 percent.
On top of these drastic cuts, the bill also features a slew of anti-environmental riders. One such rider prevents new and existing power plants from being regulated for greenhouse gas emissions, which is central to president Obama’s new climate initiative. Several others continue to allow certain grazing practices on public lands without environmental review and dramatically extend the term of grazing permits, removing safeguards for the protection of sensitive habitat and declining species.
Finally, the bill includes a provision that blocks the Fish and Wildlife Service from adding the greater sage-grouse to the Endangered Species List before 2015, a troubling Congressional move that could portend future interference with the administration of the Endangered Species Act.
The Senate Fixing America's Inequities with Revenues (FAIR) Act of 2013 (S. 1273)
The FAIR Act creates large financial incentives for states that allow offshore energy development. The bill would give coastal states in the lower 48 as much as 37.5 percent of the revenues developed in federal waters off the continental US. It would give the state of Alaska 90 percent of oil revenues developed off its coast. The bill even punishes states that choose to protect their coast by denying any revenue at all to states with a state or federal energy moratorium along their coasts. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the FAIR Act would cost the federal government at least six billion dollars over the next eight years. (see: http://www.cbo.gov/publication/44441  ).
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Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org  and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.