Fiscal Cliff Spending Cuts Threaten Rivers and Clean Water
There’s a lot of attention being paid to the “fiscal cliff” that is due at the end of the year. Unless President Obama and Congress reach a deal before the end of the year to avert taking the nation over the fiscal cliff, automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, will go into effect. These across-the-board cuts to federal programs could have devastating impacts on rivers and clean water.
Sequestration would result in cuts of millions of dollars to programs administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to restore fisheries like salmon and steelhead. These programs have been responsible for highly successful river restoration efforts across the nation, where obsolete and unsafe dams are being removed to restore free-flowing rivers for fish, wildlife, and cities and towns that benefit, environmentally and economically, from the clean water and outdoor recreation opportunities provided by restored rivers.
We don’t have to leap off the fiscal cliff like lemmings to the sea. To achieve this, however, we need a balanced solution, one that relies on sensible budget cuts that do not harm programs that provide enormous benefits to our nation, along with responsible revenue increases that are applied fairly across our society.