WASHINGTON, DC – November 19, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The House Natural Resources Committee held a legislative hearing on the Protecting America’s Recreation and Conservation Act, a bill that proposes extensive and dismantling changes to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Rep. Tsongas has championed the LWCF and has been one of the leading voices calling for its reauthorization.
Fifty years ago Democrats and Republicans came together to create the bipartisan Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses revenues from the depletion of offshore oil and gas to preserve land and water resources, promote recreation, conserve open space and public lands, and protect natural and historic sites. In half a century, the LWCF has protected land in all 50 states, 98 percent of counties, and supported more than 41,000 state and local park projects. It does not cost a dime to American taxpayers and does not contribute to the federal deficit. More than $218 million in LWCF funds have been used in Massachusetts alone.
Despite strong bipartisan support in Congress and backing by more than 85% of Americans, the LWCF was allowed to expire on September 30, 2015 and awaits reauthorization in Congress.
The Protecting America’s Recreation and Conservation Act discussed at today’s hearing undercuts the effectiveness of the LWCF, severely limiting the federal government’s ability to continue to secure public lands for future generations and giving dedicated conservation resources right back to big oil.
Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (MA-3), the top Democrat on the Federal Lands Subcommittee, which oversees public lands, spoke out against the proposed changes to the LWCF. She discussed the historic conservation role of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, citing the program’s critical funding for local projects.
Rep. Tsongas questioned witnesses about how the federal government already provides $4.7 billion in annual tax subsidies to the oil and gas industry, ways that the Department of the Interior uses eminent domain at the request of local landowners, and how federal land acquisitions improve overall stewardship.
Witnesses at today’s hearing were: Mr. Bill Bryan, Director, Missouri State Parks and Recreation; Dr. Madeline Burillo, Associate Vice Chancellor of Workforce Instruction, Houston Community College; Mr. Travis Campbell, Chief Executive Officer, Far Bank Enterprises; Ms. Kristen Sarri, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Policy Management and Budget division of the U.S. Department of the Interior; and Mr. Tom Wolfe, Principle, Public Affairs Consulting.