Washington Update: Sequestration in effect, FY13 funding update

Sequester was triggered on March 1st, 2013 and with it brings $85 billion in automatic, across-the-board spending cuts. As a result of sequester, federal agencies must makes cuts of about 9 percent for non-defnse programs and about 13 percent for defense programs. These cuts must be achieved over the remaining seven months of the fiscal year. Agencies have not yet announced the specific cuts to programs they will make as a result of sequestration.

On March 27th, the continuing resolution (CR), that Congress passed last September to fund the federal government for the first six months of the fiscal year, expires. Both chambers are now working on spending packages to carry the federal government through the rest of FY 2013.


Join the call to Rethink Real Estate

Earlier today, we released a new report about the federal government’s involvement in real estate. This spending represents billions of dollars of taxpayer dollars, and impacts Americans on every street in every town and city across the country.

We’re calling for action, and we want you to join us. Add your name to the petition asking Congress to examine this spending and better coordinate federal programs.

We know what programs this funding goes to, but how does it impact American families? Is it supporting U.S. communities? And are taxpayers getting the best return on their investment? All of these questions should be answered.

As the 113th Congress begins its new work, with the Presidential Inauguration just two weeks away, and as budget concerns continue to be a focus of debate in Washington, now is a unique opportunity to examine this spending.

Ask Congress to examine federal real estate spending. Take a moment to add your name to the national petition, and share it on Facebook or on Twitter with the hashtag #RethinkRealEstate.

Federal investments could help American communities grow stronger and more vibrant — in addition to achieving their goals of homeownership and housing security. Call on Congress to examine these programs today.


National Brownfields Coalition ramps up outreach to Congress during 2013 Appropriations process

Cumberland Park on Nashville, TN’s waterfront, transformed a former industrial area into a 6.5 acre nature-inspired play space that gets kids and parents moving. It is an excellent example of brownfield redevelopment in action. Photo via Inhabit.com.

As Congress considers the federal budget for fiscal year 2013, the National Brownfields Coalition is working to support several brownfields-related federal programs. These programs include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Brownfields program, as well as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Section 108 loan guarantee authority, its Sustainable Communities program, and the Brownfields Economic Development Initiative (BEDI) program.


Senate Appropriations Committee votes to restore funding to HUD’s Sustainable Communities Initiative

This morning, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its FY 2013 spending bill for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and restored $50 million in funding to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Sustainable Communities Initiative.

To those of you who took time to write or call your Senator in the past week on behalf of this issue, THANK YOU! This victory would not have been possible without your help!

The Sustainable Communities Initiative is part of the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a collaboration between HUD, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency which coordinates federal housing, transportation, water, and other infrastructure investments to make neighborhoods more prosperous, allow people to live closer to jobs, save households time and money, and reduce pollution.

The Senate’s vote is a huge step forward for the Partnership’s work this year. The Partnership programs are already helping communities across the country use their resources more wisely and support their local economy – read more about these communities on our Partnership blog.


Brownfields and the President’s budget

The President’s budget for fiscal year 2013, released in February, requests $167 million for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields program – a $1.1 million (or 0.7%) cut relative to 2012. The Administration continues “zeroing” the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program, although it also asks for an increase in HUD 108 loan authority to $500 million. The Administration wants to make HUD 108 self-sustaining through increased fees, thereby eliminating the credit subsidy. The HUD Sustainable Communities Program, which Congress did not fund last year, is back in the President’s budget at $100 million.


Obama Administration’s support for Partnership for Sustainable Communities, revitalization programs in FY 2013 budget helps create great communities nationwide

Washington DC — In providing full funding in its fiscal 2013 budget for the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, the Obama Administration has strengthened one of its most innovative inter-agency programs and has reaffirmed the numerous benefits that come from efforts to address housing, transportation and environmental needs in a coordinated manner.

Smart Growth America applauds Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget request to restore funding for the Sustainable Communities Initiative at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Partnership’s programs at the two other participating agencies, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, would remain funded at current levels, preserving their ability to aid communities across the country.

“The Partnership represents an unprecedented level of interaction between government agencies, aligning them in a way that supports economic growth and uses taxpayer dollars more effectively,” said Geoffrey Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America. “It’s great to see that in these tough economic times, the Administration is investing in programs that help to cut through government red-tape and generate fiscal savings for our local communities. Improving access to affordable housing, creating more transportation options, and protecting the environment equates to a win-win-win for our economy.”


Speak out for EPA's Office of Sustainable Communities

If new development threatened to pollute your drinking water, who would you look to for help? If your children had to walk past a contaminated empty lot on their way to school, how would you go about fixing it?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Sustainable Communities helps towns and cities address these kinds of problems. These issues pose a threat not only to our health but to our economy, and the Office of Sustainable Communities helps local leaders protect both.

But now the Office itself is in danger. Congress is debating funding for fiscal year 2012, and now is a crucial time to tell your Members of Congress that you support these important programs.

Please take a moment to voice your support: email your Members of Congress today.

The EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities does more than just protect air and water quality. The Office helps communities develop in ways that are fiscally sound and support their economy for decades to come. And as part of the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, the Office also helps make the most of taxpayer investments.

Tell Congress that you support the work of the EPA: send an email today.

Emailing your Members of Congress is easy and only takes a few minutes, but your letter could make all the difference. Please take a moment to email Congress today.


Take action! Help defend funding for the Partnership for Sustainable Communities

The Senate and the House of Representatives have each proposed budgets for the 2012 federal fiscal year, and each proposal includes different levels of funding for the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

This week, the two houses are scheduled to reconcile their budgets and will decide funding for the Partnership and its programs for next year. That means this week is a crucial time to voice support for the Partnership.

Tell your Senators and Representative that to support the Partnership for Sustainable Communities: Call your members of Congress today.

The Partnership is an innovative and effective collaboration between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Transportation and Department of Housing and Urban Development. Through the Partnership these agencies coordinate federal policies, programs and resources to achieve multiple goals at the same time. This makes policy more efficient, makes best use of taxpayer dollars and helps build strong, durable economies in communities across the country.

The Partnership depends on the support of advocates like you. When you speak out, Congress listens!

Voice your support: Tell your Senators and Representative to continue funding the Partnership in Fiscal Year 2012.

Let’s work together to protect programs that put taxpayer dollars to good work and strengthen America’s local economies: call your members of Congress today.


EPA's Office of Smart Growth receives zero funding in 2012 budget proposal

On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee reported out the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2012. The bill included severe cuts to programs administrated by the Environmental Protection Agency: the legislation proposes reducing the Agency’s budget for FY2012 by 18% – that in addition a 16% cut in 2011.

Help defend funding for the EPA’s Office of Smart Growth: click here to send a letter to your Representative.


Help protect the EPA's Office of Smart Growth

The House Appropriations Committee just passed legislation that would eliminate funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Smart Growth. We need your help to tell your Representative to reject this proposed cut when the legislation is considered by the full House of Representatives.

Send a letter to your Representative: Don’t cut funds to the EPA’s Office of Smart Growth.

Towns across the country are making better economic and environmental outcomes through their work with the EPA’s Office of Smart Growth.

When Lincoln, Nebraska, needed a hand figuring how its zoning codes were impacting redevelopment efforts in the small city, it asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Smart Growth for guidance.

And when Bluffton, South Carolina, wanted help mapping future growth to make sure it would benefit the town’s economy for years to come, it asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Smart Growth for advice.

The Office of Smart Growth helps communities across the country: Help protect funding for this important program.

Smart growth strategies create the housing, transportation and business resources necessary to keep America competitive in a global, 21st century economy, and the EPA’s Office of Smart Growth is a crucial part of implementing these strategies. We need your help to make sure the Office of Smart Growth receives funding next year: send a letter to your Representative today.