Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bishop criticized after temporarily stopping funding to Land and Water Conservation Fund

Over the past five decades, more than $171 million have flowed into Utah through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. As chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Congressman Rob Bishop turned off the flow of that money, temporarily, last week. “What we are doing now is a violation of the law and I’m not going to go forward with allowing this administration to continue to violate the law so that they can have money with which to play,” said Bishop during a FOX 13 News exclusive interview Monday. Bishop is critical of reauthorizing the fund without reviewing how it is operating. He said the fund is meant to send 40% of its money to state managed projects. He added that number has dropped to 16%. “I’m not going to allow the agencies just to squirrel the money away and play with it. It’s not their play thing. It has to be accounted, it has to be solving a problem,” Bishop said. The LWCF has wide bi-partisan support, and Bishop’s hard stance is drawing wide criticism. President Barack Obama indirectly called out Bishop saying in his weekly online public address, “Republicans in Congress should reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund without delay.” Bishop doesn’t like not knowing where the money is being spent. The congressman signed a letter to the Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell, and Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, calling for an accounting of how the LWCF has been spent, which pieces of land funds have acquired and details about those lands such as if they have been surveyed and if public recreational uses have been approved. Critics argue the delay is halting projects that were already planned. Bishop said that’s not true. He added the fund has billions of dollars already dedicated, enough to fund projects at its current pace for the next 70 years...more

Let's hope Bishop hangs tough.  It's certainly reasonable for Congress to obtain a full accounting of how the expenditures were used in the past before they authorize expenditures for the future.  Let's also hope the new budget "deal" doesn't permanently reauthorize the LWCF.

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