Monday, February 25, 2008

Bush's Budget and Repigno World

The following quote from the story below illustrates nicely how things work in "RepignoWorld", a world unencumbered by inconvenient facts and time wasting objective thought.

The biggest cuts to the endangered species accounts would be for recovery and candidate conservation. The administration proposed cutting $2.6 million from the recovery account. Democrats blasted similar proposals in previous years.

First, Repigs cut funding for recovery of endangered species, funding that is already woefully and vastly inadequate. Next, some brilliant Repigs will scream and whine that the ESA needs to be eliminated because it doesn't work! They note brilliantly that no species ever get recovered, so time to get rid of the Act! See? Yep, the Repigs are brilliant, as long as they remain firmly within RepignoWorld, where facts and reasoning, except for rectal reasoning, are not needed!!!

E&E Daily Headlines -- Monday, February 25, 2008
9. WILDLIFE: Two House panels take aim at FWS budget (02/25/2008)

Allison Winter, E&E Daily reporter
House lawmakers will get two opportunities to grill top officials at the Fish and Wildlife Service this week over proposed budget cuts and the pending decision over whether to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act.

Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dale Hall will appear before a House Appropriations subcommittee Thursday, and his deputy, Kenneth Stansell, will testify tomorrow in front a House Natural Resources subcommittee.

Both hearings are intended to provide oversight of the Bush administration's fiscal 2009 budget request, but the controversial polar bear decision is also expected to play prominently in lawmakers' questioning.

Last month, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would delay its decision on the polar bear, giving itself a 30-day extension from its court-ordered Jan. 9 deadline. That deadline lapsed two weeks ago, also yielding no decision. The Interior Department has come under fire from Democrats and environmentalists for the delay, especially because it allowed a Feb. 6 auction of oil and gas leases in Alaska's Chukchi Sea, part of the bear's habitat, to go forward.

Hall said in an interview last week that the final decision on the bear would be "soon" but declined to commit to a date.

If listed, the polar bear would be the first mammal protected under the act because of climate change. FWS proposed listing the bear last year because rising temperatures are shrinking its polar ice habitat.

Endangered species budget cuts

House Democrats are also expected to criticize proposed cuts to the endangered species budget and other popular programs with the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Bush administration proposed $65 million in cuts to the overall FWS budget, for a total budget of $1.3 billion. Endangered species services would bear part of those cuts. The administration proposed $147 million for endangered species accounts, a $3.6 million reduction.

The biggest cuts to the endangered species accounts would be for recovery and candidate conservation. The administration proposed cutting $2.6 million from the recovery account. Democrats blasted similar proposals in previous years.

Within the endangered species account, the listing budget would see a slight boost over last year's request. But the proposed $210,000 increase, for a total budget just over $18 million, does not begin to address the needed amount to address the species backlog. Officials have said it would take $153 million to list the more than 250 species on FWS's "candidate" list, which are all awaiting listing decisions.

The budget request would also eliminate funding for two programs, popular among lawmakers, that give voluntary grants to help landowners restore habitat and species on their land. The administration proposed to zero out the Landowner Incentive Program and Private Stewardship Grants Program. A similar proposal last year did not gain traction in Congress.

A major controversy in last year's FWS budget -- the National Wildlife Refuge system -- may not make as big of a stir this year. Last year the White House proposed to flat line the budget at $394 million and consolidate staff and resources to live within the smaller number. Operations costs have been outpacing the modest increases in the refuge budget, as energy prices rise and 60 percent of the refuge staff reach a senior level with a higher pay grade.

Congress gave refuges a boost in their 2008 appropriations bills in an effort to triage against the proposed staff cuts. The administration proposed repeating that budget amount, $434 million, in its fiscal 2009 request.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is not the sole focus of the hearings: Del. Madeleine Bordallo's (D-Guam) Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans subcommittee hearing will also review the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration budget at its hearing (see related story). And Rep. Norm Dicks's (D-Wash.) appropriations panel will also review the U.S. Geological Survey at its hearing.

Overall, the Bush administration budget proposal calls for $10.7 billion for the Interior Department, a slight decrease from last year.

Schedule: The Natural Resources Committee hearing is tomorrow at 2 p.m. in 1334 Longworth.

Witnesses: Kenneth Stansell, deputy director of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Schedule: The Appropriations Committee hearing is Thursday, Feb. 28, at 2 p.m. in B-308 Rayburn.

Witnesses: FWS Director Dale Hall and USGS Director Mark Myers.

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