The following was released by the Sierra Club concerning President Bush's Comments on the Environment in Birmingham on Thursday.
President Plays Bait and Switch with Conservation Funds
Bush Administration Uses Land and Water Conservation Fund in Budget-Cut Shell Game
Birmingham, AL -- While President Bush is claiming his budget fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the Bush Administration is actually cutting funding for federal land purchases. Appearing before cameras at Alabama's Oak Mountain State Park, Bush today trumpets "full funding" for the LWCF at $900 million, but in fact his budget proposal would take money from other important conservation programs to fund LWCF, and would actually decrease funding for the critical federal portion of LWCF.
"It would be more honest for the President to label his budget what it is -- a serious cut in the federal commitment to protect our National Parks, wildlife refuges and other special places for all Americans," said Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director.
"Robbing popular conservation programs to claim full funding for LWCF is one more bait and switch by the Bush administration. While he's increasing a little in one pot of money, he's slashing funding for public lands protection elsewhere. Americans won't be fooled by his token actions and photo shoots -- they clearly see the full picture of President Bush's failure to protect the environment."
The Bush budget would provide more money to states to spend from the LWCF, but only by shortchanging other crucial federal conservation programs, including the program that funds federal land acquisitions needed to protect our National Parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands. Federal land management agencies are in desperate need of federal dollars to carry out these critical acquisitions.
In addition, the Administration's LWCF proposal plays a budgetary shell game. The proposal lumps other important conservation programs into the LWCF account without adding enough money to fund those programs. For example, other conservation programs that would be victim to Bush's shell game include the program to provide wildlife protection grants to states.
Last year, the Interior Department budget gave $100 million to the state wildlife protection program. This year, the Bush budget gives Interior no money for this wildlife protection program. Instead, if states want to fund these wildlife protections, they would have to take the money from their LWCF grant.
"Last year, Congress reached a historic, balanced and bipartisan conservation funding agreement, committing $12 billion over 6 years to the Land and Water Conservation Fund and other valued conservation programs," Pope added.