Washington, D.C. – House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) released the following statement on the release of Chairman Rob Bishop’s (R-Utah) new bill to weaken the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which the House Republican majority allowed to expire in September for the first time in its 50-year history. Bishop has refused to hold a hearing on Grijalva’s bill (H.R. 1814) to reauthorize the program, which currently has 195 bipartisan cosponsors.
“There wasn’t a problem with the Land and Water Conservation Fund until Chairman Bishop decided to let it expire. Bipartisan coalitions in the House and Senate have been working to reauthorize LWCF for months while he has filibustered and heckled from the sidelines. His new bill would destroy the fundamental conservation and recreation purposes of the program in order to solve problems that don’t exist and give Big Oil yet another tax break. This proposal is untimely, unhelpful and unpopular with Americans everywhere who support a clean reauthorization.”
The first eight pages of the draft dictate percentages and sub-percentages of overall LWCF funding for a litany of non-conservation programs. The remainder of the draft seeks to give LWCF money back to oil companies in the form a rebate and make offshore drilling less safe.
“The first part of this draft seeks to micro-manage this program to death and the second part can be summarized as, ‘Strike the LWCF Act and insert Drill, Baby, Drill,’” Grijalva said.
Facts About the Bill
LWCF is dedicated to enhancing conservation and recreation. The discussion draft released today does not serve those purposes.
– The bill provides only 3.5 percent of the annual appropriated amount for federal land acquisition. This arbitrary restriction prevents the use of LWCF funds to promote access and ensure recreational opportunities across our national parks, forests, and public lands.
– Twelve pages of the bill – forty percent of its length – are dedicated to speeding up permitting requests for Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas exploration. The Land and Water Conservation Fund was set up 50 years ago to direct revenue from OCS drilling to protect our nation’s land and water resources, not to give Big Oil another handout.
– The discussion draft directs revenue from LWCF into a program designed to train oil and gas workers. While science and technical education is a national priority, it shouldn’t be financed by siphoning off money from our most effective conservation program. Big Oil receives billions in annual subsidies from the federal government. It doesn’t need more money at the LWCF’s expense.