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McCollum-Led $36.8 Billion Interior-Environment Funding Bill Passes House of Representatives

July 24, 2020
Press Release

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.), Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, released the following statement today after the passage of the FY 21 Interior-Environment funding bill, part of a four-bill appropriations minibus, H.R. 7608:

“The $36.8 billion FY 21 Interior-Environment funding bill represents the largest investment in our environment and our communities since 2010,” Chair McCollum said. “This bill moves us forward – by investing our resources in ways that keep our communities safe and healthy, investing in the protection and preservation of our landscapes and biodiversity, and investing in the arts and humanities. It also moves us in the right direction to meet the federal government’s trust and treaty responsibilities to our Native American brothers and sisters, increasing funding for Indian Health, education, and more. Finally, this bill takes steps to confront our nation’s legacy of racial injustice by removing hateful Confederate symbols from our national parks, because our public spaces must be open and inviting to all. With this bill, we are committed to investing in helping our nation combat the concurrent crises of climate change, tribal health disparities, and racial injustice. I’m proud that this bill reflects the priorities of the American people.”

This legislation makes significant investments in protecting and preserving public lands, building resilience to climate change, strengthening America’s environmental workforce, and ensuring access to safe drinking water.

The bill invests in:

  • Environmental Protection: $9.38 billion for the EPA, increasing funding by $318 million, with $3.58 billion for EPA’s core science and environmental program work and $15 million for Environmental Justice activities.
  • Public Lands: $13.83 billion for the Department of the Interior, increasing funding by $304 million, with $1.3 billion for the Bureau of Land Management, $1.6 billion for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and $3.22 billion for the National Park Service.
  • Clean and Safe Drinking Water: The bill will make communities safer and healthier by providing investments to ensure that all Americans have access to clean and safe drinking water:
    • $2.76 billion for Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds;
    • $189 million for targeted grants for drinking water contaminants and wastewater treatment for lead, nitrates, and other health hazards;
    • $90 million for Brownfields cleanups; and
    • $12.9 million in additional funding for EPA for scientific and regulatory work on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), needed to establish drinking water and cleanup standards.
  • Upholding federal commitments to our Native American brothers and sisters:
    • $6.5 billion for the Indian Health Service; and
    • $3.5 billion for Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Education, and Office of the Special Trustee.
  • Arts and Humanities: The bill invests $170 million each for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, an increase of $7.75 million above the 2020 enacted levels and a rejection of the President’s budget request proposal to eliminate the agencies.

Additionally, the bill contains provisions important to Minnesotans and to the American people:

  • Removing Confederate commemorative works: This bill includes language requiring the National Park Service to remove all Confederate commemorative works. It also includes language authored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries that prohibits funds for the purchase or display of the Confederate flag in national parks, with the exception of specific circumstances where flags provide historical context.
  • Policy provisions that protect our environment now and for future generations:
    • A provision to prohibit FY 21 funds from being spent to review or approve the Twin Metals mine plan within the Rainy River Watershed of the Superior National Forest, footsteps from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
    • A provision to block oil and gas drilling off the coasts of states like Florida, California, and Maine.
    • Provisions to protect the pristine wilderness of Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge and the Tongass National Forest. 
    • A provision to end the issuance of permits to import sport-hunted trophies of elephants and lions from Tanzania, Zimbabwe, or Zambia.

The text of the legislation can be found here. The bill report is here. A summary of the bill is here. A fact sheet is here.