SUMMARY: Fiscal Year 2020 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill
Washington, D.C. – The fiscal year 2020 Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies bill provides a total discretionary funding level of $35.8 billion, which is $248 million more than the fiscal year 2019 level and $5.46 billion more than the President’s request. In addition, for the first time, the bill provides $2.25 billion in a wildfire budget cap adjustment to respond to the increasing incidence of catastrophic wildfires across the country.
Key Points & Highlights
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).—The bill provides $9.01 billion for the EPA, $161 million more than fiscal year 2019 and $2.79 billion more than the President’s budget request. The bill rejects the Administration’s proposals to cut research by 34 percent, grants by 33 percent, and regulatory and enforcement programs by 29 percent, as well as the elimination of several programs, including Environmental Education, radon risk reduction, lead paint risk reduction programs, and the U.S. contribution to the Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund. This bill rejects all of those proposals and instead funds all EPA programs at the fiscal year 2019 level or higher.
The bill continues steady funding for the State Revolving Funds, including $1.13 billion for Drinking Water and $1.64 billion for Clean Water. (Reflecting the agency operating plan incorporating annual rescissions, these numbers are slightly below enacted levels but consistent with actual spending levels). The Water Infrastructure Financing Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan program is increased to $73 million, which will support lending of more than $6 billion. The bill provides $29 million for lead contamination testing at schools and child care centers, $20 million for lead reduction projects in rural areas, and $26 million for water projects in communities working to improve Safe Drinking Water Act compliance. The bill also funds several recently authorized infrastructure grants for the first time in fiscal year 2020, including $20.5 million to address sewer overflow control requirements, $13 million to provide technical assistance for wastewater treatment operators, $5 million to fund school drinking fountain replacement, $2 million to support drinking water infrastructure resiliency, and $1 million for water system workforce training.
National Park Service (NPS).—The bill provides $3.35 billion for the NPS, $133 million more than the fiscal year 2019 level and $614 million more than the President’s budget request. Within that amount, the bill increases funding for park operations by 2 percent for a total of $2.56 billion. Historic Preservation Fund grants are funded at $113.2 million, which is $10.5 million more than fiscal year 2019. It includes increases above fiscal year 2019 of $3 million for State Historic Preservation Offices, $2 million more for Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, $2.5 million more for Historical Revitalization grants, $1 million for Civil Rights preservation grants, $1 million for Historically Black Colleges and Universities restoration grants, and $1 million for Save America’s Treasures. Funding for National Heritage Areas is $21.9 million, which includes an increase of $1.6 million to fund newly authorized heritage areas.
Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT).—The bill fully funds payments to counties through the PILT program, which are estimated at a total of $500 million.
Wildland Firefighting.—The bill provides $3.644 billion for fire suppression, of which $2.25 billion is provided through the wildfire budget cap adjustment authorized in the Fiscal Year 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act. This additional funding gives the agencies an assured amount of funding to be used when a fire season exceeds the projection and all regular appropriated funds are spent. This total is $1.221 billion above fiscal year 2019. Prior to this reform, the agencies were forced to borrow from their non-fire accounts when this occurred, putting a hold on other activities and straining resources.
Tribal Programs.—The bill provides $6.04 billion for the Indian Health Service, $238 million more than fiscal year 2019 and $132 million more than the President’s budget request. Within that amount, the bill includes increases of $61 million to meet court-ordered requirements for tribal lease operating costs owed to tribes and $84 million for staffing needs of new health facilities. Tribal programs provided through the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) are collectively funded at $3.131 billion, an increase of $51 million above the fiscal year 2019 level. The bill accepts a budget request to separate BIA and BIE into two separate bureaus.
Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).—The bill provides $465 million, $30 million more than fiscal year 2019 for Federal land acquisition and State conservation grants provided through the LWCF. The President’s Budget proposed a negative total for LWCF, in the amount of -$27 million, due to rescissions from previously appropriated funding. LWCF is critical for improving recreational access to our federal lands, protecting iconic landscapes, delivering grants to states and local governments to create and protect urban parks and open spaces, and providing farmers and ranchers with easements to allow them to continue to steward their private lands in the face of development pressures.
Cultural Programs.—The bill provides $157 million each to the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, an increase of $2 million more for each endowment than the fiscal year 2019 enacted level, rejecting the Administration’s proposal to terminate these programs. The bill provides $1.047 billion for the Smithsonian Institution, $4.1 million above fiscal year 2019 and $69.3 million above the President’s budget request. Funding for the National Gallery of Art is increased to $172.2 million, and funding for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts increases to $43.29 million.
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