President Bush recently signed a six month "Continuing Resolution" that funds almost all existing federal programs from the beginning of the 2009 fiscal year (October 1) until March 31 at the same level of funding as they received for FY2008.
Thus, for at least the first half of FY2009, NOAA and EPA environmental education programs will be funded at the current levels, and NASA’s new $8.5 million global climate change education program will presumably continue. However, the new "University Sustainability Program" (formerly the Higher Education Sustainability Act) and the "Energy Sustainability and Efficiency Grants and Loans for Institutions" will not receive any funding. And with Congress now done with business for 2008, the "No Child Left Inside" and the "21st Century Green High-Performing Public Schools Facilities" Acts passed by the House will die and need to be reintroduced next year.
2008 marks a truly unprecedented and historic year for gains in federal environmental and sustainability education:
· the new University Sustainability Program is the first new federal grant-making program for environmental education in 18 years
· the Energy Sustainability and Efficiency Grants and Loans for Institutions program promises to provide critical financing for schools to reduce their carbon footprint
· Passage by the House of the No Child Left Inside and the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public Schools Facilities Acts are significant steps toward eventual passage
· NOAA and NASA environmental education funding increased by over $10 million dollars in total.
Three years ago when virtually no advocacy work at the federal level was being done, we founded CEL on the assumptions that:
1) with issues such as climate change and "nature deficit disorder" receiving much broader public attention, environmental education’s time had come, and could generate significant and bi-partisan support from Congress and the public, and
2) significant opportunities had been missed simply because no one was asking Congress to support environmental education.
Thanks to your help and that of many thousands of others, we have clearly demonstrated these assumptions to be true. I hope those of you who have invested your time and effort feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment, and I look forward to working with you on achieving even greater advances in 2009.
Jim Elder, Director, Campaign for Environmental Literacy