Center for American Progress

RELEASE: 7 Ways Looming Cuts to Public Lands and Oceans Will Affect All Americans
Press Release

RELEASE: 7 Ways Looming Cuts to Public Lands and Oceans Will Affect All Americans

Washington, D.C. — As fiscal cliff deliberations intensify, the Center for American Progress today released “7 Ways that Looming Budget Cuts to Public Lands and Oceans Will Affect All Americans,” which examines seven key areas where proposed cuts to federal lands and ocean management agencies would undermine critical investments and fundamental services that Americans have come to depend upon for providing safety and security, enhancing economic contributions, and preserving America’s shared history, heritage, and recreation opportunities.

There is no doubt Americans will feel the impacts of such massive cuts. In particular, we will see reductions in many services provided by land and ocean management agencies such as weather satellites, firefighters, American-made energy, and hunting and fishing opportunities. Additionally—and perhaps most obviously—the cuts will likely cause some level of closure, if not complete closure, at many of our parks, seashores, and other cherished places. Losing funding for these critical services and infrastructure also reduces their tremendous value as job creators and economic drivers.

Some of the cuts for fiscal year 2013, should sequestration move forward, include:

  • A $149 million reduction in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency’s “Procurement, Acquisition, and Construction” account, expected to result in lower-quality storm predictions and warnings and fewer commercial and recreational fishing opportunities
  • An $85 million cut to the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management’s “Management of Lands and Resources” account, and a $105 million cut to “Resource Management” for the Fish and Wildlife Service, which could make it more difficult to study, permit, and build renewable energy projects on public lands
  • $225 million in cuts to funding for wildland fire prevention and assistance at the land management agencies, putting American lives and property at risk and jeopardizing the resiliency of our national parks and forests
  • Nearly half a billion dollars in cuts to the Coast Guard budget, including a $247 million cut to the “Operating Expenses” account and a $115 million cut to “Acquisition, Construction, and Improvements,” to result in decreased homeland security and maritime safety for all Americans

Voters recognize the value of these services and by nearly a 3-to-1 margin oppose reducing conservation funds to balance the budget. A poll conducted by the Nature Conservancy determined that 74 percent of voters say that “even with federal budget problems, funding for conservation should not be cut.” And in the 2012 election, voters across 21 states approved ballot measures raising $767 million for new parks and conservation initiatives. As these statistics clearly show, many citizens are willing to pay a little more in order to fund conservation and related programs.

In order to continue providing these necessary services to the American people, this report calls on con­gressional Republicans to put forward a realistic plan that embraces both revenue increases and spending cuts. Attempting to balance the budget and avoid the fiscal showdown simply by cutting spending without a plan to increase revenue means we will be less prepared for the next Hurricane Sandy, we will be unable to control massive wildfires as quickly as we can today, and we will have fewer places to hunt, fish, and relax.

Cuts to nondefense discretionary spending should not come without the closure of tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans and getting rid of subsidies to some of our most profitable companies, such as ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell. A workable solution can only include a fair and favorable combination of both tax revenue and spending cuts.

To speak with CAP experts, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.481.8181 or [email protected].