The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies did approve a draft bill to fund the Interior Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service and related programs. It would provide $32.1 billion in discretionary spending, 16% above the fiscal 2009 level, not including funds from the economic stimulus program. The bill is slightly less than the one approved by the House Appropriations Committee last week.
The bill would provide $3.6 billion for Environmental Protection Agency programs to repair sewer and drinking water infrastructure. That's a 119% increase from last year's base funding. The bill would also provide the EPA with $10.2 billion, a 33% increase over the previous year. That includes $400 million for a new program to restore the Great Lakes.
The appropriations bill would also provide $1.9 billion for wildfire suppression, which would fully fund average costs for the past 10 years. This would be a 40% increase above non-emergency funding in fiscal 2009. The Forest Service has been forced to dip into its core program funds in recent years to pay for escalating firefighting costs. The National Park Service would receive $2.7 billion, a 7.4% increase over the previous year.