Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Obama Seeks Increased Funding for Land Acquisitions

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), created in 1965, is dedicated to acquiring lands for the federal estate and helping to fund state land purchases. LWCF is funded by royalties from offshore oil and gas production. LWCF funding was allowed to lapse in 2015 for the first time in its 50-year history. At the time funding lapsed, LWCF contained $20 billion. The lapse occurred amid disagreements in the U.S. Congress over proposed reforms to the program, including reforms that would have limited future federal land purchases and would have allowed some LWCF funds to be used to enhance, maintain, and preserve the lands the federal government already owns. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), chairman of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, released a draft bill to reform LWCF in November 2015. Bishop says his bill would “restore” LWCF to the role it was originally intended to have when it passed.“The law’s original intent was perverted long ago, when the federal government’s powerful drive to acquire more land gradually began crowding out the stateside program,” Bishop said. “This is what we are seeking to restore.“The Obama administration operates [LWCF] like it’s their own personal piggy bank,” said Bishop. “They refuse to tell us where the money is going and for what purpose.” Despite the concerns expressed by Bishop and other members of Congress who support LWCF reform, Congress extended LWCF funding for three years without making meaningful changes when it passed the December 2015 omnibus budget bill...

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