Friday, July 14, 2017

R's appropropriate $4.3 billion MORE than Trump's request for DOI, EPA, Forest Service

The full Appropriations Committee bill includes $31.4 billion in funding for many other U.S. environmental and public land programs. This is $824 million below last year’s levels, but roughly $4.3 billion above President Donald Trump’s budget request...more

The R's are making it clear they don't have the stomach for significant cuts to environmental programs. They might have had the courage to do so if Trump hadn't squandered so much of his political capital on ill-timed tweets, useless media wars and so on, resulting in his precipitous decline in the polls. They do, however, somewhat address land acquisition by redirecting those funds to deferred maintenance:

NPS needs to spend four times the amount it gets every year from Congress to fix its maintenance backlog, which is expected to grow each year, according to research from the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC). Much of the maintenance backlog facing the agency is caused by expanding operations at the expense of basic upkeep. The NPS added 18 new units to the national parks system since 2009, costing the agency an enormous amount of money. As the mission of NPS expanded, the agency became increasingly unable to fund necessary maintenance projects. The correlation between new park units and deferred maintenance is quite direct. The U.S. government has spent more than $10 billion acquiring new public lands, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Recall that one of those acquisitions was the Valle Caldera in northern NM, and I wrote at the time:

It also contains the Heinrich-Udall language to transfer the Valles Caldera Preserve from a multiple-use trust to the sole jurisdiction of the National Park Service.  In a joint statement Senators Heinrich and Udall say the transfer is “to increase public access.”  In a floor statement Senator Heinrich says current management has resulted in “drastically limited public access with relatively high entrance and permit fees” and the new management will result in “expanded public access.”  A more realistic assessment comes from the Washington Post: The Park Service is taking on Valles Caldera and numerous other properties at a time when the agency is struggling with more than $11 billion in deferred maintenance at existing parks and monuments and is looking to boost entrance fees at parks across the nation to generate more revenue in advance of the agency’s centennial. Can the agency afford what amounts to its largest expansion in nearly four decades?


Anonymous said...

"redirecting those funds for deferred maintenance"

- that is one of many reasons both state and feds want land to control:

- to bill taxpayers for maintenance in wilderness that is too remote for the public to see if the work is really needed and if the work had actually been done.

Plus, they get kickbacks from contractors on any work that's outsourced.

Besides, each year they have to "use" their entire gov. budgets or lose them, and they don't want to get cut back next year for what they didn't "spend" this year.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what type of maintenance is done in designated wilderness areas except for probably trail maintenance. It is true that Wildlands work or maintenance is difficult to quantify whether the public sees it or not. Tree planting, tree thinning for fire control, endangered species and archeological factors are all favorites who bureaucrats for spending monies. Add to that the attempt of the Forest Service to become more like the Park Service and then you really have a deep well in which to throw the taxpayers dollars.