«

»

House Interior Funding Bill is a Mixed Bag

The Capitol Building | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The Capitol Building | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Yesterday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies marked up its Fiscal Year 2015 spending bill, which provides funding for the National Wildlife Refuge System and numerous important conservation programs.

The best news coming out of the subcommittee mark-up was a significant increase in the Refuge Fund budget from a usual $13 or $14 million up to $63 million. This is an enormous increase, and is very good news for the Refuge System. Because the federal government is exempt from taxation, the Refuge Fund is an annual appropriation designed to offset tax losses by annually paying the local unit of government an amount that often equals or exceeds that which would have been collected from taxes if in private ownership.

We’re also pleased to see the Refuge System operations and maintenance fund at $476.87 million, which is another step in the right direction and slightly above the President’s request. Many Refuge System budget items were funded at or close to what the Refuge Association requested, which is good news.

However, the bill contains some items that don’t belong in a funding bill:

  • A rider that removes the ability of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish new refuges; we oppose this rider, as we believe local communities, not Capitol Hill, should be actively engaged in these important decisions.
  • A rider that postpones the listing decision for one year on the Greater Sage-Grouse. This sort of decision should be made based on sound science, not tacked onto a spending bill.

Neither of these riders should be included in an appropriations bill, and we’ll be urging Congress to remove them.

Here is a breakdown of the Subcommittee’s Interior Appropriations Bill, along with the Refuge Association requests.

  • Refuge System Funding $476.865 million (Refuge Association ask: $476.4 million; it is  funded at $472 m for FY14)
  • Partners for Fish and Wildlife $52 million (Refuge Association ask: $75 million; it is funded at $52.07 for FY14)
  • North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) $34.145 million (Refuge Association ask: $75 million; it is funded at $34 m for FY14)
  • Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act $3.66 million (Refuge Association ask: $4 million; it is funded at $3.6 m for FY14)
  • Multinational Species Fund $10 million (Refuge Association ask: $9.1 million; it is funded at $9 m for FY14)

Click here to view the full list of the Refuge Association Legislative Priorities for FY15.

 

Here is a breakdown of the Land and Water Conservation Fund budget for FY15:

House FY15 Draft Bill Percent cut from FY14 enacted
BLM $4,816,000 75.3%
NPS $21,486,000 60.5%
FWS $14,500,000 71.0%
USFS $8,000,000 81.6%
Stateside $46,000,000 4.3%
Section 6 $27,145,000 0.9%
FLP $24,198,000 52.5%
OVS $6,000,000 50.7%
LWCF Total $152,145,000 50.3%

 

This bill now moves to the full committee for consideration. The Senate has not released their draft bill yet. Stay tuned for further updates.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.refugeassociation.org/2014/07/house-interior-funding-bill-is-a-mixed-bag/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>