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Environment & Energy

Conservation Groups Urge Supercommittee to Avoid Cuts to Environmental Programs

The National Wildlife Federation released a report outlining ways for Congress to reduce the federal deficit while also protecting programs they say are critical to public health and the environment. The Conservation Works report outlines how the U.S. would be affecting by cuts to conservation programs. In Pennsylvania, one of the areas that would take a hit is outdoor recreation.

"Hunting and Fishing in Pennsylvania supports 80,000 jobs and generates more than $5 billion in consumer spending, so this is an important industry for the commonwealth, and as we lose these important programs that under girt our natural resources, we threaten those industries," said Larry Schweiger, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.

The report highlights the federal government's role in enforcing air pollution standards, improving water infrastructure, keeping lakes and rivers clean, ensuring drinking water is safe and managing national parks and other public lands. The report states that any time cuts are made on the federal level, conservation programs take a hit.

"Environment programs used to be about 2% of the federal budget, today they are less than 1%, so we've seen a significant fall over the last decades of overall support," said Schweiger.

He said instead of cutting funding for conservation efforts, Congress should eliminate what he calls wasteful tax giveaways for the oil, gas and mining industries.

A copy of the report has been sent to members of the Joint Select Committee of Deficit Reduction, known as the Supercommittee, which includes Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey. So far, Schweiger said, they haven't heard anything from committee members.