Back in February, we wrote Preservationists Outraged As Obama Cancels Building Restoration Programs. The programs survived because they created 16,000 jobs at very low cost; Donovan Rypkema calculated it at 1/18th the cost of jobs created in the stimulus programs.
Now the Republicans are at it, proposing to cut Save America's Treasures and Preserve America. So even if the greenest brick is the one already in the wall, or that our heritage buildings can offer a template for living in a world after oil, the $29.6 million dollar program, described as "decimal dust", is on the block.
The cuts are part of a bill from Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) that aims to cut 15 billion over 5 years. It is not a fun read (PDF here); the heritage cuts are almost lost among gems like freezing pay for federal employees, killing the Corporation for Public broadcasting selling federal buildings, voluntary payments to the UN, foreign aid cuts, drug program cuts and more. (For those more interested in public broadcasting, here is the proposal:
Eliminate Corporation for Public Broadcasting Funding
This amendment would eliminate federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, as called for in the President's Fiscal Commission report. CPB's primary job is to "receive and distribute" federal appropriations to fund national programs and public radio and television stations. It is most famous for supplying funding to NPR and its member stations (and other public radio stations) and to PBS and its member stations. The current CPB funding level is the highest it has ever been, at more than $400 million annually.
Tim Halbur of Planetizen picks the key quote from Governing Magazine:
Quoted in Governing Magazine, Lally [director of congressional affairs for The National Trust for Historic Preservation,] says:
'The historic preservation fund, which is part of the Department of Interior, is usually funded at about $75 million to $78 million, and Save America's Treasures usually makes up about $25 million to $30 million of that total. Eliminating it would be a huge blow to federal preservation efforts, Lally tells FedWatch. "It's not like when lawmakers propose elimination of these funds they go to another account within the historic preservation fund,' Lally says. 'They go away.'"
There are many of us who consider the heritage preservation movement to be an environmental movement; that we have much to learn from the way people lived before oil about how we will live after it. Lally notes that "Save America's Treasures is the only federal grant dedicated exclusively to physical restoration of nationally significant sites, and it represents a significant portion of all federal funding for historic preservation."
Too bad that nobody cares.
More on the importance of heritage:
Preservationists Outraged As Obama Cancels Building Restoration Programs
The Greenest Brick is the One That's Already in the Wall
If Old Buildings Are So Green And Efficient, Why Do We Keep Losing Them?
The Greenest Building is the One Already Standing
Disclosure: The author is President of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario