Chair Pingree Statement at Subcommittee Markup of Fiscal Year 2022 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Funding Bill

2021-06-28 17:40

Congresswoman Pingree (D-ME), Chair of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's markup of its fiscal year 2022 bill:

For fiscal year 2022, the Subcommittee is recommending a total of $43.4 billion for the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies bill.

This is an increase of $7.3 billion over last year’s enacted level, which is a 20 percent increase.

I’m proud that this bill makes long-overdue investments to care for our planet, fight the climate emergency, and meet our trust obligations to tribal nations. The bill prioritizes the protection and preservation of our landscapes and biodiversity, providing $15.6 billion for the Department of the Interior.

It supports the administration’s initiatives on climate change, such as the Civilian Climate Corps, and affirms the role of science as the foundation for decision making by providing an increase of $327 million for the U.S. Geological Survey. It funds a national initiative to reclaim abandoned mines and cap orphan oil and gas wells, and it makes investments in renewable energy development, including offshore wind.

Climate change is causing more extreme weather events and drought conditions, as well as worsening existing problems such as the spread of invasive species. These factors are all contributing to an increasing threat of high-intensity wildfires in the West.

The Interior bill not only provides $5.7 billion for Wildland Fire Management, but it also invests in programs to improve the health of our forests and make them more resilient. This includes $98 million for Vegetation and Watershed Management, $59 million for Forest Health Management, and $60 million for the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Fund. The bill provides a total of $8.3 billion for the Forest Service.

The bill also includes major investments to clean up pollution and protect human health and the environment. The bill provides $11.4 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency, the highest funding level in the agency’s history.

Across the country, Superfund cleanups are delayed because of lack of funding. This bill boosts Superfund spending by $328 million, a 27 percent increase, and will accelerate the pace of cleanup of toxic chemicals from the country’s most contaminated sites.

The bill adopts a whole-of-government approach to address environmental justice and invests an unprecedented $248 million in these efforts.

Additionally, the bill provides $4 billion for grant programs to make drinking water and sewer system improvements, remove lead from our taps, improve air quality, and strengthen our nation’s recycling infrastructure. 

These grants have profound impacts on public health and the environment, but they also are economic drivers that create good paying American jobs.

Following our work in the CARES and American Recovery Plan Acts, this bill supports the Arts and Humanities by providing $201 million for both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The cultural sector has been particularly devastated by COVID-19, and this funding will help to support relief and recovery for community organizations across the country.

And finally, this bill supports Native American families by investing in a strong and resilient Indian Country, including through education and health care programs. Within the Department of the Interior, the bill invests $4 billion in Indian Affairs programs, including an additional $180 million to address climate change impacts. For Indian Health Services, the bill provides an additional $1.9 billion towards meeting Federal treaty and trust obligations for health care.

The investments in this bill will improve the lives of Americans and I urge my colleagues to support the bill.

117th Congress