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From the editor

Earth to Congress: Help! 

In early March, Congress passed its budget bill for fiscal year 2022. Reading through the details, I had to wonder what planet members of Congress think they’re living on. Are they not aware of the twin emergencies of climate change and the extinction crisis?

The Democratic-controlled Congress gave modest increases to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior, but both amounts were far less than President Joe Biden requested.

As the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) noted, the nation’s 1,800 endangered species received a total increase of $3 million, or about $1,600 per species. Funding to address the 400 species still waiting for protection is frozen at last year’s level. And yet again, Congress kept a rider in the budget that prevents the government from listing the Greater Sage-Grouse under the Endangered Species Act, even as the bird continues its slide toward extinction.

Other serious flaws noted by CBD: The EPA can’t deal with emissions from the livestock industry. The Forest Service will receive even more funding for harmful commercial logging, while the Bureau of Land Management gets an additional $15 million for fossil fuel development on public lands. More than $1 billion in funding remains in place to build border walls, ensuring that many more miles of borderlands — critical habitat for wildlife — are irreparably harmed by wall construction.

In addition, the bill prevents federal agencies from regulating the use of lead ammunition, despite a recent scientific paper concluding that half of America’s Bald Eagles continue to be poisoned every year by lead ammunition.

Brett Hartl, government affairs director for the CBD, summed up the sad state of affairs: “Budgets are a reflection of our values, and this one clearly shows the environment is just not important to far too many politicians.” 

Matt Mendenhall, editor

[email protected]

See the contents of our May/June issue

 

Originally Published

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