The National Environmental Education Act (NEEA) (S. 3833 and H.R. 6194) was signed into law by Congress in 1990.
This update is from the North American Association for Environmental Education's Executive Director, Judy Braus, and is dated February 17, 2012:
"First as background, for the past two years (FY 11 and FY 12), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) included funding in the President’s budget for the NEEA programs, including funding for the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), the national training grant program (EETAP and EECapacity), the regional and headquarters grants programs and other initiatives. In spite of challenging economic times, we have been thrilled that EPA requested a slight increase in funding ($9.7 million in FY 11 and FY 12 vs. $9 million in prior years), hired additional staff, and made productive changes to integrate environmental education throughout the agency. For FY 11, EPA decided to fund environmental education at $9.7 million despite a 20% cut in their overall budget. For FY 12, Senator Jack Reed and other Senate supporters kept the funding in place despite another 20% cut to EPA’s overall budget.
On Monday, we learned that for FY 13 (the fiscal year starting on October 1, 2012), EPA recommended eliminating the environmental education program. The budget justification (see below) suggests that the agency will integrate environmental education throughout various EPA programs instead of requesting dedicated funding. During a conference call on Monday afternoon with environmental education stakeholders, EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe expressed the strong commitment of EPA to support environmental education, despite eliminating the program in the budget. He also said that they would continue to support essential elements of the work that EPA has already committed to, including EE-Capacity, NEEF, and the grants program for FY 13.
We greatly appreciate that the current Administration maintains a commitment to this work. However, the budget document that eliminates the program at EPA is the official position of EPA, making it critical that we work with Congress to maintain core elements of the National Environmental Education Act going forward.
With that in mind, we will take a two-pronged approach to support environmental education in the FY 2013 budget and beyond. We intend to work closely with EPA to ensure that they continue to fund these critical initiatives and to help leverage the funds to enhance the overall funding available for environmental education. At the same time, we will advocate on Capitol Hill to continue funding through the appropriations process for the National Environmental Education Act programs that are so critical to the field. Securing funds through Congress is important for several reasons:
1) Without a mandate from Congress, there is no requirement for EPA to continue to fund environmental education. While EPA is currently supportive of environmental education, future Administrations may not maintain the same level of support, and could eliminate environmental education programs at EPA any time.
2) Funding environmental education at EPA through Congress means that important parts of the National Environmental Education Act will continue to be implemented. This includes spending a certain percentage of the funds on grants to the field, EECapacity, and NEEF. It also means that EPA is required to maintain a staff of at least 6 FTEs, which assures a core of environmental education positions within EPA to implement the Act.
3) If Congress does not appropriate funding for environmental education at EPA in FY 13, it will be nearly impossible to get Congress to provide funds in FY 14.
So while we strongly support the current Administration’s efforts to advance environmental education as an integral function within EPA and across the government, we believe that we must do everything in our power as a community to advocate on Capitol Hill, especially in the Senate, to keep this critical funding in place and ensure that we have a dedicated funding stream to support the critical work of the field.
We will need your help to make this happen. In the coming weeks, we will be providing more specific information about how you can get involved in working with your networks and Congressional leaders to support continued full funding of environmental education programs at EPA. Just know that we will continue to work closely with EPA to support their efforts internally and externally to strengthen the field. At the same time, we will work with all of you to help maintain funding for the Act.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Linda Rhoads (email@example.com), NAAEE’s Director of Affiliate Relations and Advocacy.
Thank you all for your on-going support of environmental education and for the many emails you sent this week asking how you can help. By working together with you and our partners, we are hopeful that we can strengthen support for environmental education in the FY 13 budget."