Public Policy Update
The whirlwind in Washington, D.C., continues as federal legislators make decisions that will impact the future of conservation in the United States. As the election season approaches, there are several issues on the table that DU continues to advocate. DU's commitment to these is manifested by recent visits to Capitol Hill by some of DU's most influential leaders, and we need your support to make them happen.
With time running out in the 112th Congress, Ducks Unlimited staff and volunteers are in high gear to encourage Congress to renew the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) program.
Multiple efforts are underway to promote action for the program's reauthorization. DU is seeking support from Republicans who serve on the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. Republican members of that committee are being asked to sign a letter to the chairman seeking action on H.R. 1960, the bill that will reauthorize NAWCA for five more years.
Those who have stepped forward to be among the signers supporting moving the NAWCA bill forward deserve DU's special thanks. They include Reps. Rob Wittman (VA), Jeff Denham (CA), Don Young (AK), Scott Tipton (CO), Bill Johnson (OH), Andy Harris (MD), Dan Benishek (MI), Jeff Landry (LA), Bill Flores (TX) and Jon Runyan (NJ).
We need only four additional Republican members of the committee to have a majority. Our targets include Reps. Jimmy Duncan (TN), Louie Gohmert (TX), Rob Bishop (UT), Doug Lamborn (CO), Mike Coffman (CO), Paul Broun (GA), John Fleming (LA), Tom McClintock (CA), Glenn Thompson (PA), David Rivera (FL), Steve Southerland (FL), Jeff Duncan (SC), Paul Gosar (AZ), Raul Labrador (ID), Kristi Noem (SD) and Mark Amodei (NV). If you are a constituent of any of these members or feel you can help, please request that they sign the letter asking the House Natural Resources Committee to act on the NAWCA reauthorization bill soon. You can get in touch with them using this action alert form created by DU's Governmental Affairs staff: http://www.capwiz.com/ducks/issues/alert/?alertid=61559551&type=TA.
While the Senate has passed their version of the 2012 Farm Bill, the House of Representatives has yet to approve a version of this key piece of legislation, which will deeply impact key waterfowl areas, including the Prairie Pothole Region, the Great Lakes, lower Mississippi Valley, Chesapeake Bay and other significant habitats. Recently, DU's CEO Dale Hall, Chief Conservation Officer Paul Schmidt and others flew to Washington to speak with important House leaders to ensure that the farm bill's conservation programs remain strong in the face of budget concerns and that the bill be passed quickly to keep these important programs alive after the 2008 Farm Bill expires.
The latest news from Washington as of this article's publication is that a proposed one-year extension to the 2008 Farm Bill that would have tapped conservation program funds has been withdrawn after it became clear there would not be a sufficient number of votes. However, this measure was replaced with a bill to assist farmers dealing with drought conditions in the country's heartland, still drawing from conservation funds. The bill was passed by the House before the congressional recess began, but the Senate will not take it up until Congress returns in September.
DU will continue its work during the recess to advocate a five-year farm bill with conservation priorities intact, including re-coupling conservation compliance with crop insurance, creating a national Sodsaver program and holding the line at $6 billion in cuts to the conservation title over the 10-year budget life of the bill.
One of the biggest policy victories this year for waterfowl conservation came at the end of June as the RESTORE Act was passed by Congress and approved by President Obama as part of the comprehensive transportation reauthorization bill. The RESTORE Act directs Clean Water Act fines levied against the parties responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to restore the Gulf Coast's ecosystem and economy.
Since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, DU and its partners have worked with Congress to build support for legislation ensuring penalties paid by the responsible parties under the Clean Water Act are used to restore the Gulf Coast region.
As the single most important wintering area for waterfowl in North America, the Gulf Coast is one of DU's five highest-priority habitats for conservation on the continent. As such, DU will seek to be a major player as planning gets underway for using the allocated funds in the Gulf and ensuring that the long-term restoration of coastal habitat remains at the forefront of everyone's mind in the coming months and years.
For the latest updates from Washington, visit www.ducks.org/publicpolicy.