ALBUQUERQUE – This week, U.S. House and Senate appropriators set funding levels for agencies like the National Park Service and finalized a comprehensive budget agreement.
Environment New Mexico’s Dominick Lawton offered the following statement:
“I applaud U.S. House and Senate appropriators for their work on a budget that does much to protect New Mexico’s wild places and our water and air. I especially applaud Senator Tom Udall, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, for his work to preserve New Mexico’s special places for future generations.
“Congress has come a long way since this fall’s government shutdown, which closed all 401 national park units to visitors and halted critical parks protection programs – yet kept our public lands and parks open to gas drilling companies, the mining industry, and other major polluters.
“This budget shows that Congress has listened to New Mexicans who love our parks and were outraged when their gates were shut this fall. After years of steep budget cuts, Congress has restored the National Park Service operating budget to 2011 levels. I am encouraged by appropriators’ decision to provide Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Petroglyph National Monument, and other national parks with much-needed relief.
“I hope to see Congress take a long look at the funding provided to the most successful program for land conservation in American history, the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This program is responsible for safeguarding Bandelier National Monument and the Gila National Forest from degradation, along with hundreds of other places representing the best of New Mexico’s – and America’s – natural heritage. Yet, the Land and Water Conservation Fund received just one-third of its intended funding this year.
“I am also concerned that this budget includes a provision that allows the coal-mining industry to keep dumping industrial waste in rivers and streams, polluting entire watersheds and putting the source of fresh drinking water for millions of Americans in jeopardy.
“We look forward to working with New Mexico’s Congressional leaders to ensure that environmental protection gets the resources and attention it deserves in 2014 and beyond.”