Letter to Congressional Appropriators on the FY 2018 Interior Allocation

May 9, 2017

May 9, 2017

Dear Chairmen Cochran and Frelinghuysen, and Ranking Members Leahy and Lowey:

As stewards of programs funded through the Interior, Environmental and Related Agencies appropriations bill, we are united in strong opposition to the Administration’s FY18 budget blueprint. We applaud the recent, bipartisan work on reaching agreement on FY17 funding. Rather than deep cuts called for in FY18, we write to ask for your support of no less than continued current funding levels of $32.28 billion for key federal resources that protect our clean water and clean air, conserve our wildlife, water and public lands, ensure support for Indian health, address drought, and allow for the continued access to future generations to our national cultural heritage and our national parks. Even these amounts are insufficient to support important environmental and cultural resources programs, but would at least allow for the maintenance of these programs.

The agencies and programs funded through Interior and Environment bill support critical environmental and cultural resources that protect the American public and conserve our natural resources. Under the proposed FY18 budget, programs serving the American people would be deeply harmed. Critical funding for abandoned mine clean up, National Heritage Areas, and the National Wildlife Refuge Fund would be eliminated, various initiatives supporting Tribes across the country would be decimated, essential programs that support conservation and management of our public lands, imperiled species and other wildlife would face deep cuts, and DOI funding for the popular, bipartisan Land and Water Conservation Fund would be slashed by 75 percent.

In addition, the Trump plan to cut EPA's budget by nearly one-third - the largest cut in history - will have real consequences on the health and well-being of Americans. The proposal would slash funding provided to states and tribes to ensure that national clean air standards (and state clean air goals) are met, and that communities and families are protected from dangerous air pollution. Additionally, the deep budget cuts would jeopardize health and safety by weakening EPA enforcement, and reduce funds to address pollution from lead, clean up toxic sites, and ensure safe and clean waters.

Further, the proposed termination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) would end federal support that for over 50 years has strengthened the creative capacity of our communities. The NEA remains the single largest national funder of nonprofit arts in America with grants that help leverage more than a 9 to 1 match in private charitable gifts and other state and local public funding. NEH’s investments in museums, historic sites, research, and the preservation of historic artifacts have played a key role in developing local cultural heritage tourism economies,  which  attract  78%  of  all  leisure  travelers.  The  NEA  and  NEH  also  have exemplary partnerships with the states, with 40 percent of program funds distributed through state arts agencies and humanities councils. Every congressional district, all 50 states, and every U.S. Territory benefit from this investment.

Already, without action to stop sequestration, in FY 2018 non-defense discretionary programs are projected to decline to 3.1 percent of GDP—equal to the lowest level in more than 50 years.

While we acknowledge the many constraints on the larger 302(a) allocation, as well as the many competing priorities across appropriations bills, we respectfully request maintaining at least current funding levels for the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies subcommittee.

We also request this preservation of funding because of the cumulative impact of years of constrained allocations on environmental and public health programs and agencies. Just taking the FY10 enacted levels and adjusting for inflation, the FY17 level is already a 10% cut. The impacts of both years of inadequate funding and the inability to keep up with inflation and fixed costs have led to delays in science and research projects, significant maintenance backlogs, insufficient staffing including law enforcement and visitor center staff, and other damaging impacts to environmental agencies and the public.

Thank you for considering our views. We look forward to working with you, and please do not hesitate to reach out to our groups for additional information on the importance of funding programs and agencies within the Interior and Environment bill.


Alaska Wilderness League Alliance for the Great Lakes American Alliance of Museums American Bird Conservancy American Forests

American Rivers

American Society of Landscape Architects American Sustainable Business Council Americans for the Arts

Association of Art Museum Directors

Bad River Watershed Association

Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters, Ecology Center

Bedford Audubon Society Buffalo Audubon Society Californians for Western Wilderness Center for Biological Diversity

Central Westchester Audubon Society

Chemung Valley Audubon Society

Church Women United in New York State

Clean Water Action

Coalition to Protect America's National Parks

Conservation Corps North Bay


Conservation Legacy

Crow Canyon Archaeological Center


Defenders of Wildlife

Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society

Delta Institute Earthjustice Earthworks

Elders Climate Action

Environmental Defense Action Fund Environmental Law & Policy Center Evergreen Audubon

Federation of State Humanities Councils Friends of Organ Mountains Desert Peaks Friends of the Earth - US

Friends of the St. Joe River Association

Future of Music Coalition

Gathering Waters, Wisconsin's alliance for Land Trusts

Genesee Valley Audubon Society

Grand Canyon Trust

Great Old Broads for Wilderness


Headwaters Chapter Izaak Walton League of America

Hispanic Access Foundation

Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters, USA-JPIC Hoosier Environmental Council Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon

Illinois Council of Trout Unlimited

Institute for Applied Ecology

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Islanders for the San Juan Islands National Monument Kentucky Heartwood

Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center League of American Orchestras League of Conservation Voters

Local Learning: The National Network for Folk Arts in Education

Los Padres ForestWatch Marine Conservation Institute Milwaukee Riverkeeper National Audubon Society

National Council for the Traditional Arts

National Humanities Alliance

National Parks Conservation Association National Recreation and Park Association National Trust for Historic Preservation


National Wildlife Refuge Association

Nature Abounds

New York City Audubon

North Shore Audubon Society

Northern Catskills Audubon Society, Inc. Northwest Watershed Institute

Ocean Conservancy


Ohio Wetlands Association Onondaga Audubon OPERA America

Orange County Audubon Society, Inc Oregon Natural Desert Association Partnership for the National Trails System PEN America

Performing Arts Alliance

Public Lands Alliance

Religious Coalition for the Great Lakes

Restore America's Estuaries

Rockland Audubon Society

Save The River / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper

Saw Mill River Audubon

Sierra Club

Sierra Club Niagara Group

Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester Soda Mountain Wilderness Council South Shore Audubon Society

Southern Adirondack Audubon Society Students for a Just and Stable Future The Conservation Fund

The Corps Network

The Literary Network - LitNet

The Recording Academy

The Trust for Public Land

The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay

The Wilderness Society

Theatre Communications Group Union of Concerned Scientists Wilderness Workshop

Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts





cc: Interior Subcommittee Chairmen Murkowski and Calvert, Ranking Members Udall and McCollum, and House and Senate Leadership