CLIMATE:

Groups seek billions in Senate bill for resource adaptation

A coalition of nearly 600 conservation, outdoor and recreation groups is calling on the Senate to dedicate billions of dollars in a climate change bill to wildlife and natural resources threatened by global warming.

The groups are delivering a letter to senators today asking for legislation that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and dedicates 5 percent of the total allowance value to federal, state and tribal agencies to take actions needed to conserve natural resources. Although estimates remain difficult, 5 percent of allowances could be worth anywhere from $3 billion to $5 billion annually.

"Climate change poses an immediate and profound threat to the healthy natural systems that provide us with drinking water, flood protection, food, medicine, timber, recreational opportunities, scenic beauty, jobs, and numerous other services," the groups wrote. "Local, state, federal, and tribal fish, wildlife and land managers are critically short of funding needed to effectively respond to the combination of these challenges."

The more than 40 national groups that signed the letter include Defenders of Wildlife, the National Wildlife Federation, the Wilderness Society, the National Parks Conservation Association and the Nature Conservancy. The remaining groups include regional and local conservation, outdoor, hunting and fishing, recreation and faith groups.

They argue that the funds will provide crucial support for job-creating conservation initiatives, such as restoring landscapes, strengthening ecosystems to withstand disruptive changes, removing invasive species from natural areas and repairing damaged watersheds.

Two Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee are pressing Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to include a special program for natural resources in an energy and climate bill. Sens. Max Baucus of Montana and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island have prepared legislative language that would establish a national adaptation strategy and wildlife strategy center and set aside some revenue generated by the cap-and-trade program for adaptation (E&ENews PM, Aug. 10).

Conservation groups had also asked House lawmakers for 5 percent but received less. Under the House-passed bill, 1 percent of allowances would be allocated to domestic natural resource and wildlife adaptation from 2012 to 2021. Afterward, that percentage would increase, first to 2 percent, then to 4 percent from 2027 through 2050.

Click here to read the letter.