December 20, 2007 EE Legislation Update

FY08 NOAA and EPA Appropriations – Mixed News

The Omnibus FY08 Appropriations bill finalized by Congress today provides more funding ($26 million compared to $13 million for FY07) specifically for environmental education grantmaking than any prior year in history. However, this total is still quite modest compared to other academic subjects, and it is not as high as what we hoped as a result of the original House and Senate FY08 appropriations bills from which this omnibus bill is being constructed.

NOAA: The new bill restores the $5 million Environmental Literacy Grants program, and increases the total BWET (Bay Watershed Education and Training) funding from $6.9 million to $9.7 million.

EPA: The bill also fully restores the $9 million Environmental Education Program. The bill also directs EPA to stop taking about $2 million off the top of this appropriation for internal purposes. Since about 50% of this annual appropriation (or about $5 million) is either granted or contracted out to the field, this should mean that the funds going to the field will increase by about $1 million.  

NASA – The bill also includes $8.5 million for NASA to develop a new competitive grant program to educate students on global climate change. The final bill unfortunately did not include similar funds for NOAA and NSF. While the NASA funds will likely be granted for climate change SCIENCE education that uses Earth observation data collected by NASA rather than a broader and more comprehensive approach to climate change education, it is still a step forward.

In sum, your efforts are making truly unprecedented progress – never in our nation’s history has Congress given environmental education so much consideration, discussion, and funding. We now need to insure that our new bills do indeed pass and that our funding continues to increase for FY09. So keep the pressure on over the coming year!

Thank you as always for your critical help - it is indeed making a difference.

Jim Elder