09.26.16

Senators Urge Inclusion of Permanent Conservation Fund Reauthorization in Final Energy Bill

WASHINGTON — Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) led a group of eight Senators calling on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to keep the full, permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in the final legislation that emerges from the Energy bill conference.

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Steve Daines (R-MT), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Rob Portman (R-OH) joined Sen. Burr (R-NC) in the letter dated Friday.

From the letter:

“LWCF was created in the spirit of reinvesting the revenues from the sale of our national resources into future resources for all Americans – asset for asset… Like many of the 85 members who voted in support of S. 2012 on the floor, we consider LWCF a top policy priority in the context of the Energy bill and believe maintaining this provision is crucial to advancing a conference report through the Senate.

“LWCF has had incredible bipartisan success over its near half-century of existence, touching all 50 states and nearly every county in America. It is a continuing investment in the economic driver that our federal, state, and local public lands represent. The parks, trails, forests, wildlife refuges, battlefields, historic sites, and working lands sustained by LWCF funding support an outdoor recreation and tourism sector that contributes a total of $646 billion annually to the American economy, supporting 6.1 million jobs (1 out of every 15 jobs in the U.S.).

“This well-envisioned toolbox is critical for all Americans as it fosters successful partnerships with states, localities, private organizations and landowners to meet unique and pressing conservation, recreation, and historic preservation needs across the country.”

 

Background:

Earlier this year, a full permanent reauthorization for the LWCF passed the Senate as part of the Energy Policy Modernization Act. Senator Burr had previously led the charge to bring awareness to the importance of LWCF and to ensure that this fund is renewed. This Senate-passed legislation is now set to be conferenced with the House-passed legislation before being sent to the President. Senator Burr has been recognized for his leadership in bringing awareness to the critical importance of the LWCF and to ensuring that this fund is renewed.

 

Established in 1964, the LWCF is one of America’s most successful federal conservation programs, conserving irreplaceable lands and improving outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the nation. It requires no taxpayer funding. Senator Burr has penned op-eds in the Charlotte Observer and Greensboro News and Record on the need to protect North Carolina’s natural treasures.

 

The full text of the letter is below and can be viewed online here.

 

September 23, 2016

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski, Chairman

Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

304 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Chairman Murkowski:

As strong supporters of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), we are writing to thank you for your leadership in crafting S. 2012 the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016, and to urge you to ensure that Section 5002 of the bill is included in any final legislation that emerges from the Energy bill conference.

 

As you know, LWCF was created in the spirit of reinvesting the revenues from the sale of our national resources into future resources for all Americans – asset for asset. The Committee recognized the fundamental soundness of this approach – and the compelling need for continued conservation investments in all our states – when it adopted the LWCF language, Section 5002, and rejected weakening amendments. Like many of the 85 members who voted in support of S. 2012 on the floor, we consider LWCF a top policy priority in the context of the Energy bill and believe maintaining this provision is crucial to advancing a conference report through the Senate.

 

LWCF has had incredible bipartisan success over its near half-century of existence, touching all 50 states and nearly every county in America. It is a continuing investment in the economic driver that our federal, state, and local public lands represent. The parks, trails, forests, wildlife refuges, battlefields, historic sites, and working lands sustained by LWCF funding support an outdoor recreation and tourism sector that contributes a total of $646 billion annually to the American economy, supporting 6.1 million jobs (1 out of every 15 jobs in the U.S.).

 

This well-envisioned toolbox is critical for all Americans as it fosters successful partnerships with states, localities, private organizations and landowners to meet unique and pressing conservation, recreation, and historic preservation needs across the country. LWCF has increased access for hunters and anglers on public lands, and has protected fish and game habitat for sportsmen. It preserves historical treasures from Civil War battlefields to our most recent history, such as the United Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania. It helps to ensure that our ranchers and forest owners can keep working the land, and that our local communities can have parks and outdoor recreation sites.

 

We deeply appreciate the ways in which Section 5002 of the bill will sustain these benefits by permanently reauthorizing LWCF; refining the program’s focus on prioritization, cost efficiency, and accountability; and ensuring that this highly successful program continues to meet communities’ conservation needs while helping to protect and maintain our shared heritage. We also enthusiastically support the 1.5 percent sportsmen’s access provision which is critical to increase public access to public lands, as changing land use and ownership patterns create challenges to historic and much-needed access for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation.  

 

The importance of these provisions is reflected in their bipartisan passage, not once but twice, by the Committee, and by the full Senate’s decisive rejection of a proposed amendment to alter these provisions on the floor, by a wide bipartisan margin, before approving the bill by an overwhelming vote of 85 to 12.

 

We appreciate your leadership as conference discussions continue, and we want to reaffirm our support for retaining the LWCF provision in any final Energy conference agreement. Please accept our thanks for your efforts to date, and please let us know how we can help you advance this priority program so it can continue to meet the needs of communities across America.

 

Sincerely,

Richard Burr                                                                                                    

Cory Gardner

Lamar Alexander                                                                                           

Steve Daines

Lindsey Graham      

Kelly A. Ayotte

Susan M. Collins                                                                                          

Rob Portman

cc:

The Honorable Maria Cantwell, Ranking Member, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

The Honorable Fred Upton, Chairman, Energy and Commerce Committee

The Honorable Frank Pallone, Ranking Member, Energy and Commerce Committee

The Honorable Rob Bishop, Chairman, Natural Resources Committee

The Honorable Raúl Grijalva, Ranking Member, Natural Resources Committee