ENVIRONMENT: Murray Secures Wins for Washington State Environment and Natural Resources in Annual Spending Bill

Jan 14 2014

Funding for Puget Sound cleanup, salmon recovery efforts, conservation funding, and federal forest land road decommissioning

(Washington, D.C.) – Late yesterday, a bipartisan, bicameral group of Appropriations Committee leaders released an omnibus Appropriations bill which includes several significant wins for Washington state secured by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), including Puget Sound cleanup and salmon recovery efforts.

“This bill is undoubtedly a significant ‘win’ for Washington state,” Senator Murray said.  “Strong investments in our environment and natural resources are critically important to the economic, cultural, and recreational identity of Washington state, and I’m so proud to have been able to secure this funding. I know the important role our natural resources, from salmon to public land to a healthy Puget Sound, are to a thriving Washington, and I am so pleased I was able to work with my fellow Appropriators to ensure these priorities were protected, particularly when faced with the proposals set forth by the Republican-led House of Representatives.” 

A list of funding for environment and natural resource projects and programs secured by Senator Murray is below:

  • $65 million for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, representing an increase of $15 million about President Obama’s proposed FY14 budget request in order to support state, local, and tribal programs that help improve salmon habitat. 
    • PCSRF was established by Congress in fiscal year 2000 to protect, restore and conserve Pacific salmon populations and their habitats and supports conservation and recovery of Pacific salmon species across the rivers, watersheds, and coastal habitats of Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, and California
    • States and Tribes have undertaken more than 10,000 projects since PCSRF was created, resulting in improvements to habitat condition and availability.
  • $25 million for Puget Sound under the EPA’s Geographic Programs, an increase of almost $8 million above the President’s Budget Request in order implement the Puget Sound Action Agenda to continue efforts to restore the Puget Sound ecosystem.
    • Puget Sound is an economic driver in Washington state, and the Sound’s recovery, protection, and cleanup are funded through the Geographic Programs account in EPA.
    • This funding provides federal leadership and supports implementation of the Puget Sound Action Agenda, a coordinated plan to recover, restore, and protect the Puget Sound watershed and relying on the coordinated efforts of tribal, business, nonprofit, local government and state agencies.
    • The environmental and economic future of Washington state is closely tied to the health of Puget Sound, and this money will help continue those efforts as well as support the recovery of several Endangered Species Act-listed salmon species. 
  • $35 million for Legacy Roads and Trails to address decaying roads on federal forest lands: Under the President’s Budget Request, Legacy Roads and Trails were combined into Integrated Resources and Restoration.
    • This program plays an important role in protecting water quality in our upper watersheds.
    • Fish and wildlife habitat restoration is a critical benefit and LRT’s road decommissions reconnect habitat, reduce road sediment in streams, and improve passage of fish to additional habitat.
    • LRT dollars provide environmental and economic benefits in rural areas.
    • Ongoing Washington projects in several National Forests, including Olympic and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie can be completed using these funds.
  • $306 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)to protect some of America’s most treasured landscapes, enhance recreational opportunities, and support local economies.
    • LWCF dollars have been used in projects across Washington state, and with funding this year acquisitions can be made in the Washington Cascades-Yakima River Watershed.
    • In the lead up to the 50th anniversary of the creation of LWCF, continued funding demonstrates the lasting importance it plays in our national landscape.
    • Land and water conservation has traditionally enjoyed broad, bipartisan support and funds have been used to acquire land, improve access for hunters and anglers, and support rural economies across the country

In December, Senator Murray, as Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, reached a landmark budget deal with U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) that rolled back significant cuts from sequestration and provided a critical framework for the spending bill released today by the Appropriations Committee leaders.  Senator Murray, also a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was able to work with her colleagues to ensure several Washington state priorities were included in the omnibus package.  In order to become law, the House and Senate must each pass the omnibus bill, and it then must be signed by the President.  

Under cuts mandated by sequestration in the Budget Control Act, the government’s discretionary spending limit for FY 13 was $968 billion.  Under the budget agreement reached by Senator Murray and Rep. Ryan, the discretionary spending limit for this FY14 omnibus bill is $1.012 trillion. If not for the budget agreement, which rolled back cuts from sequestration, the FY14 budget topline would have been $967 billion.  The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 maintains defense spending at roughly current levels and increases non-defense discretionary spending significantly by replacing almost two-thirds of this year’s cuts.

If Murray and Ryan hadn’t reached an agreement, sequestration would have remained in place and overall discretionary spending would have been capped at $976 billion. The Murray-Ryan deal increased critical investments in defense and non-defense programs, setting the overall discretionary cap at $1.012 trillion. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 maintains defense spending at roughly current levels and increases non-defense discretionary spending significantly by replacing almost two-thirds of this year’s cuts.