I love spending time in the outdoors and honored that I recently recieved the Friend of the National Parks Award. pic.twitter.com/xXtq739Hh3
— Erik Paulsen (@Erik_Paulsen) July 24, 2015
Yeah, Erik Paulsen loves spending time in the outdoors … and the “Math Guy” says that Washington must do more with less.
Well, one thing that Congress has done is to stop collecting royalties when it allowed Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 to lapse on September 30th.
The LWCF is what funds the national parks … which Congressman Paulsen loves.
Who benefits from not paying royalties ?
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is funded by royalties energy companies pay the government for extracting publicly owned offshore oil and gas from the Outer Continental Shelf.
OK … so the clear winner is oil and natural gas companies … and the loser is … well, you already know.
What happens with those royalties ?
Each year, the Interior Department and Forest Service lay out the projects they believe deserve LWCF funds. Proposed LWCF acquisitions are spelled out in detail, and in priority order, with exact costs. Then Congressional appropriators take that list and decide which projects will get funded …
So “Math Guy” gets his wish … Washington is getting less … which really means that no monies are coming back to Minnesota to support such as Voyageurs National Park, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Saint Croix National Scenic River.
Forest Legacy Program (FLP) grants are also funded under LWCF, to help protect working forests– supporting timber sector jobs and sustainable forest operations while enhancing wildlife habitat, water quality and recreation at places such as Koochiching Forest, Sugar Hills and Brainerd Lake.
No wonder that Rick Nolan has been so passionate about Congress doing something
— US Rep. Rick Nolan (@USRepRickNolan) October 5, 2015
Sadly, Rick Nolan is in the minority party … although not necessarily in a minority position on this issue.
In fact, plenty of Republicans are quite angry … Representative Patrick Meehan (R-PA-07) in September gathered signatures from 30 House Republicans that urged chamber leaders to pass an LWCF reauthorization bill … notably absent from the list are John Kline (R-MN-02), Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03) and Tom Emmer (R-MN-06).
Further, 195 Members have co-sponsored H.R. 1814 To permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund … notably absent from the list are Congressmen Kline, Paulsen and Emmer.
While Representative Meehan has been vocal, the GOP anointed Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rob Bishop has offered his own proposal — which would significantly slash the amount of money from LWCF that can go to programs that have existed for fifty years but providing no less than 20 percent support for oil and gas permitting.
Representative Meehan strongly condemned Chairman Bishop’s draft bill, calling it a “radical departure” from the fund’s original intent as “it diverts money away from conservation, throws up roadblocks to preservation and sets top-down, arbitrary funding formulas.”
Conservation, sportsmen’s, and even religious and veterans’ groups quickly condemned “Representative” Bishop’s proposal using unusually blunt language.
“When Rob Bishop proposes gutting LWCF, he’s really talking about prioritizing Big Oil over our veterans. This plan is hostile to those who served. This is our American heritage, our history that Rep. Bishop is giving away. The Congressman single-handedly ensured the expiration of America’s parks program, and now threatens to dismember it entirely.”
—Garett Reppenhagen, Vet Voice Foundation
“Our national parks and public lands — from Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon to public baseball fields and playgrounds — are a gift from God that must be cherished and preserved. … Unfortunately, Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT, 1st), Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, introduced a bill today that would effectively end America’s best parks program…. [H]is bill would put 172 national parks at risk of development, limits funds for public access, and puts outdoor recreation jobs at risk. This is the opposite of good stewardship.”
—Rev. Mitch Hescox, Evangelical Environmental Network
“Congressman Bishop seeks to replace LWCF with a scheme that completely betrays the program’s land conservation purposes. His rewrite represents a radical departure from the fundamental values and stewardship ethic on which LWCF is based, and his attempt to pawn this off as some sort of revision must be rejected.”
—David Jenkins, Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship
“Representative Rob Bishop is trying to replace America’s best parks and conservation program with a grab bag of his pet projects. In spite of its fifty-year track record of success, Representative Bishop is proposing we kill the Land and Water Conservation Fund’s primary purpose and turn it into a handout for special interests like oil companies, giving away the money that should preserve our American lands for all Americans. There is no reason to gut this popular program and divert money away from our public lands.”
— Jennifer Rokala, Executive Director, Center for Western Priorities
Congressman Bishop just wrote a gift to developers who want to build trophy homes inside our national treasures.
— Greg Zimmerman, Policy Director, Center for Western Priorities
Yep, the 114th Congress has allowed LCWF to lapse … leaving over 170 projects in limbo after Congress for the first time in 50 years did not reauthorize the program … all so that “Representative” Rob Bishop could cut a deal for energy and real estate developers.
It’s time to ask Erik Paulsen which he loves more — the outdoors or the campaign donations ?
Tell Tom Emmer, John Kline and Erik Paulsen to join Patrick Meehan and sponsor H.R. 1814 : To permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.