WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today led a hearing on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) proposed budget for fiscal year 2024.
ON THE CRITICAL ROLE USFWS PLAYS IN CONSERVING BIODIVERSITY:
“As habitat loss and climate change continue to drive biodiversity loss in our country and around the world, the Service’s mission of conserving, protecting, and enhancing our nation’s wildlife and habitats has never been more critical … According to a 2022 report by J.P. Morgan, recent biodiversity losses have cost up to $20 trillion per year—that’s “trillion” with a “T”—in lost ecosystem services … While global biodiversity loss presents a real threat to our economy and environment, the good news is that our nation’s strong environmental laws help preserve biodiversity. The President’s budget enables the Service to fulfill its responsibilities under these laws, which include the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Lacey Act, and the Endangered Species Act.”
ON THE NEED FOR RESOURCES TO SUPPORT ENVIRONMENTAL PERMITTING REVIEWS:
“The agency’s role in the federal permitting process is especially important given the historic passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS & Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act … However, neither the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law nor the Inflation Reduction Act included direct funding for the Service’s responsibilities related to permitting. So, in other words, Congress has increased the number of environmental reviews the Service must complete, but has not yet provided the resources the Service needs to meet this workload … The President’s 2024 budget would provide the agency with adequate resources to improve efficiencies in the environmental review process, while also protecting species. We can—and must—do both.”
ON USFWS PROJECTS IN THE DELAWARE RIVER WATERSHED:
Chairman Tom Carper:
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invested $26 million in the Delaware River watershed through something called the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act. This funding, which will be spent over five years, will support projects that restore habitat and ensure communities have vitality in their watershed. I understand that demand for this funding exceeds available dollars. So, it makes sense that the Service would continue to request regular appropriations, despite the influx of funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Would you take a moment to elaborate for us on the Service’s support for this program? Is it true that you have received more proposals than you can fund?”
Martha Williams, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
“Yes, that is true. For the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act, we receive far more requests or proposals than we are able to fund. And this is true, I believe, across the board and across the country with programs like this—that are collaborative in nature—where we work with so many different partners and leverage funds to get really important work done on the ground.
“Here is an example: just this year, we are working to restore habitats in Blackburg Creek watershed in Delaware … where we’ve worked with states and other partners … to create 22 acres of dynamic coastal habitat and what that does is … it improves water quality and habitat connectivity, it improves coastal resilience … and community protection. So yes, this is a really good example of good government where we are taking proposals from communities and partners and helping to get that work on the ground. “
Click here to watch Chairman Carper’s first round of questions.
Click here to watch Chairman Carper’s second round of questions.
Click here to watch Chairman Carper’s opening statement.