After months of anticipation, the Biden administration recently released a preview of its discretionary budget request for fiscal year 2022. While the president’s budget is only a request of Congress, it advises Congress on the drafting of annual spending bills.
This initial request outlines the Administration’s priorities and suggests that it is ready to invest in climate action (with a âwhole-of-governmentâ approach), conservation and social justice. Budget snapshot includes significant increases for key conservation agencies, including departments of the interior, agriculture, energy, and commerce (including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ), as well as increases for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These federal departments oversee projects and programs that benefit birds, habitat and communities across the country.
âThe birds tell us we need to invest in natural resources and climate action,â says Sarah Greenberger, senior vice president for conservation policy. “We hope that the strong initiatives and higher funding figures included in this draft budget will be reflected in the final budget sent to Congress.”
The President’s ‘lean’ budget request is light on the funding requests by item and by program normally included in a full budget, but provides a blueprint, including total expenditure amounts at the department level and for some large agencies. federal. The budget snapshot goes ahead with the theme “Build Back Better” – President Biden’s slogan for his plans to rebuild the US economy in the post-pandemic era. In addition to and alongside the U.S. Jobs Plan, released on March 31, 2021, the administration’s budget snapshot presents opportunities to revitalize our economy by restoring ecosystems and rebuilding communities. The credit allocation process and infrastructure packages currently being debated in Congress are supposed to complement each other.
Almost all agencies’ budget request includes a component on climate change, with a strong emphasis on treating the transition to a greener economy as an opportunity to create well-paying jobs that will grow the economy in the country. the future. The specific strengths of the agency include:
- A 21% increase for the Environmental Protection Agency
- A 10% increase for the Ministry of Energy
- A 16% increase for the Ministry of the Interior
Despite the deep cuts proposed by the Trump administration, Congress continued to fund conservation priorities, with increases for a number of programs. Audubon is pleased to see this renewed commitment from the White House to fund these essential natural resource agencies. In addition, specific program highlights include:
- $ 6.9 billion for NOAA, which conducts climate research, builds coastal resilience and provides climate tools and data to decision makers;
- $ 3.6 billion for water infrastructure, including drinking water infrastructure;
- $ 1.7 billion for energy-efficient renovations to homes, schools and federal buildings;
- $ 815 million to integrate climate impacts into pre-disaster planning and projects; and
- $ 450 million to rehabilitate and rehabilitate orphan oil and gas wells and mines.
The National Audubon Society will continue to advocate for these clean energy initiatives and other important bird priorities in FY22 appropriation bills. Last year, Audubon released our first ” Bird Budget âwhich highlighted federal funding opportunities to protect birds, ranging from clean energy investments to habitat conservation to coastal restoration initiatives.
In order to bring back the birds, Congress must increase funding for important programs such as the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, and efforts that support the conservation of the Greater Sage-Grouse. In addition, specific geographic conservation efforts like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Delaware River Basin Restoration, and Everglades Restoration promote federally funded on-the-ground conservation projects. Funding for drought response, cooperative watershed management and aquatic ecosystem restoration programs will help tackle the mega drought that is affecting communities and wildlife across the West. We hope to see increased funding for NOAA programs such as Coastal Management Grants and Marine Sanctuaries and Protected Areas.
On the clean energy front, Audubon continues to advocate for increased research, development, demonstration and deployment in renewable energy – including increased funding for solar and wind programs within the Office of the energy efficiency and renewable energies from the Department of Energy and increased funding for the Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which works with the private sector to advance high-impact energy technologies.
In addition to clean energy, land and water conservation and coastal restoration, Audubon supports a range of natural infrastructure financing opportunities in the process of ownership. Like roads and bridges, our natural landscapes – like wetlands, beaches and barrier islands – act as infrastructure, providing essential services to our communities. They serve as recreation spaces, improve our resilience to climate threats such as increased flooding and drought, and improve habitats for birds and other wildlife. Congress has a historic opportunity to harness America’s immense natural wealth in its efforts to support the economy while addressing both the causes and consequences of climate change.
The decline in bird populations is directly linked to climate change; the credit process highlights opportunities for Congress to fund conservation and climate programs that will slow and reverse damage to birds and their ecosystems. We urge the Biden administration to follow through on these conservation commitments in its full budget proposal, and we similarly urge Congress to ensure conservation programs are fully funded for FY22.