Senator Murray: “This bill is incredibly important when it comes to protecting our kids from breathing polluted air or drinking contaminated water, protecting keystone species like salmon and public lands like our national parks, and protecting our communities from wildfires, droughts, and other climate disasters.”
ICYMI: Chair Murray’s Opening Remarks at Full Committee Markup
ICYMI: Senate Appropriations Committee Unanimously Approves Interior and Environment Bill in 28-0 Vote
Washington, D.C. — On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee, led by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Committee, voted to advance the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies funding bill for Fiscal Year 2024 that Senator Murray led the committee in drafting. The draft legislation funds the Department of the Interior (DOI), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and related agencies, and makes important investments to protect our environment and public lands, suppress and prepare for wildfires, and uphold our commitments to Tribal communities. The Committee voted unanimously, 28-0, to advance the legislation, where it now awaits consideration by the full Senate.
Senator Murray secured more than $20 million in the draft legislation in Congressionally Directed Spending requests for seven projects to meet critical needs across Washington state. The legislation supports Tribes across Washington state—boosting funding for Tribal programs nationwide by $325 million above last year’s funding level, including a $218 million boost for the Indian Health Service, and a $81 million boost for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Tribal schools, including a $12.5 million boost for Tribal public safety and justice programs including initiatives to address cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girl. The legislation also provides an additional $4 million to support the delivery of services to children and families in Indian Country, including a $2 million increase for Indian Child Family Violence Prevention and a $1 million increase to assist Native children under the Indian Child Welfare Act and to protect the rights of Native American children in state welfare and judicial systems.
Notably, the legislation provides important and new funding to fight invasive European Green Crab in Washington state, $6 million to improve salmon and steelhead facilities on the lower Snake River and in the Columbia River Basin, and $57 million for the EPA’s Puget Sound Geographic Program—a $3 million boost over last year’s funding level—to help implement salmon recovery plans, protect Tribal treaty rights, and reduce pollution in the region.
“Protecting our air, water, and environment is foundational to our values here in Washington state—and I fought hard to secure the federal dollars we need to protect our natural resources and preserve everything that makes Washington state such a great place to live for generations to come,” Murray said. “This bill makes incredibly important investments to protect our kids from breathing polluted air or drinking contaminated water, protect keystone species like salmon—which are so important to Washington state—and the pristine public lands that make our state so breathtaking.”
“As Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I was determined to do everything possible to protect federal dollars for Tribal Nations and expand key programs where possible,” Murray continued. “I take the federal government’s responsibility to honor Tribal sovereignty and deliver key federal commitments seriously—which this bill helps us do by increasing funding for the Indian Health Service and providing additional resources to support Tribal families, protect Tribal treaty rights, and address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.”
In the draft legislation, Murray secured more than $20 million in Congressionally Directed Spending requests for seven important projects across Washington state:
- $500,000 for Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Association for the construction of a visitors’ center at the Bainbridge Island Japanese Exclusion Memorial.
- $545,000 for the City of DuPont to install PFAS treatment units at drinking water wells.
- $5 million for the City of Mattawa for the rehabilitation and improvement of a drinking water system.
- $3 million for the City of Seattle to improve stormwater drainage in tandem with related roadway improvements.
- $3.44 million for the City of Soap Lake for the repair and replacement of failing wastewater lift stations and force mains.
- $3 million for Discovery Clean Water Alliance for the replacement of existing wastewater treatment equipment to improve system-wide efficiency and return more clean water to the Columbia River.
- $5 million for Snoqualmie Pass Utility District to improve wastewater treatment at Snoqualmie Pass, reducing runoff into Coal Creek, Keechelus Lake Reservoir, and on Forest Service land.
The legislation also includes important funding and report language for federal programs that are particularly important to Washington state, including:
- $3.1 million to support a comprehensive federal approach to addressing the threat posed by European Green Crab, including at the Willapa and Dungeness National Wildlife Refuges.This is an increase of $2.6 million above last year’s funding level and will complement the $2 million for NOAA in the Commerce, Justice, and Science draft appropriations bill the Committee advanced earlier this month. In April, Murray visited Sequim Bay with leaders from the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe along with local environmental advocates and experts to hear directly from local leaders about their on-the-ground efforts to address the threat posed by the invasive species.
- $6 million in new funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for critical capital and maintenance projects to improve salmon and steelhead facilities on the lower Snake River and in the Columbia River Basin. The salmon and steelhead hatcheries, adult fish traps, and juvenile release facilities along the lower Snake River and in the Columbia River Basin are facing significant infrastructure improvement needs due to aging critical infrastructure including pipelines, generators, and rearing units.
- $57 million for the EPA’s Puget Sound Geographic Program—a $3 million boost over last year’s funding level—including $2 million for the Puget Sound Recovery National Program Office, which was newly authorized in the FY23 NDAA. This office, and a corresponding Puget Sound Federal Leadership Task Force, will work to implement salmon recovery plans, protect Tribal treaty rights, and reduce pollution in the region.
- $4.045 billion for wildfire preparedness and suppression efforts, along with investments in our nation’s federal firefighting workforce through a health and wellness program and additional housing.
- $65.2 million for the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, a $5 million increase over last year’s funding level, which supports the work of the Regional Fisheries Enhancement Groups in Washington state and plays an important role in Washington’s salmon recovery efforts.
- $93.401 million for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earthquake Hazards program—a $750,000 increase over last year’s funding level—including $29.6 million for the ShakeAlert West Coast Earthquake Early Warning System, a $1 million increase over last year’s funding level.
- $83.181 million for National and Regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers. The Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center receives funds through this account and is located at the University of Washington with consortia partners at Western Washington University, Washington State University, and schools in Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. This funding helps promote critical ecosystem activities to ensure salmons recovery, restore nearshore habitats, reduce flood risks, and address climate-related impacts.
- $29.257 million for Cooperative Research Units, an $1.051 million increase over last year’s funding level. The legislation also encourages the development of a hiring plan to fill vacant research positions as quickly as is feasible.
- $42 million for the EPA’s National Estuary Program, $2 million above last year’s funding level. This program provides $1.5 million in funding for each of the 28 National Estuary Programs, including the Puget Sound program and the Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership.
- $6 million for the U.S. Forest Service for projects that combat water quality issues. The Legacy Roads and Trails program is critical to Washington state where it plays an important role enhancing and improving habitat for salmon, steelhead, and bull trout species while supporting good paying jobs in rural areas.
- $92.419 million for the Urban Indian Health program, a $2 million increase over last year’s funding level. There are 34 Urban Indian Health Centers across the country, including the Seattle Indian Health Board, that provide culturally appropriate health services to Native Americans.
- $51.042 million for the Rights Protection Implementation program, a $1.842 million increase over last year’s funding level, which supports off-reservation hunting, fishing, and gathering rights for 49 federally recognized Tribes, including many in Washington state. Funding supports work by the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission to manage Columbia River, Puget Sound, and coastal fisheries and ensure Tribal access, implement Washington state’s Timber, Fish, and Wildlife agreement, and comply with the Pacific Salmon Treaty.
- $19.158 million for the Tribal Management/Development Program, a $614,000 increase over last year’s funding level, to support Tribal self-determination by providing resources for fish and game programs on reservation land. This includes funding for the Upper Columbia United Tribes and the Salmon and Steelhead Habitat Inventory and Assessment Program in Washington state.
The legislation also allocates funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for three projects in Washington state: $19 million for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest for the acquisition of checkerboarded forest land near the I-90 corridor in Kittitas County, $6 million for the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge for the acquisition of 1,929 acres in Pacific County, and $905,000 for the San Juan Island National Historical Park for the acquisition of 26 acres in the San Juan Islands.
More information on the bill is available HERE.