Tell Congress: Oil Money should pay for Clean Land and Water!
ACTION ALERT: Please support the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the Gulf
Oil Spill Legislation expected to be considered this week by the US House and
We have a critical opportunity to secure full, dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and your urgent action is needed! Both the US House of Representatives and Senate are likely to consider energy reform legislation in the next week in response to the oil spill in the Gulf. The bills include a provision that will finally fix the “broken promise” of the LWCF by ensuring that offshore oil and gas receipts are used as intended to provide full and consistent conservation funding.
Please call or email Members of the Washington delegation here, THIS WEEK and urge them to support the oil spill/energy legislation and the inclusion of a fully funded and dedicated LWCF in the bill.
- LWCF is authorized at a level of $900 million per year, to be derived largely from Treasury receipts stemming from federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas leases. It makes good economic sense to reinvest a small fraction of these federal leasing revenues in parks, trails, other recreational facilities, and open space as well as protection of natural and cultural resources in Washington and across the nation.
- The fund, however, has been chronically shortchanged in the annual budget and appropriations process, with funding diverted to other purposes. This has resulted in a huge land protection and outdoor recreation backlog of unmet funding needs across our federal public lands and state and local parks. Full funding has been appropriated only once in the forty-five year history of LWCF and in recent years has steadily declined to a low in funding of $155 million in 2008.
- By providing full and dedicated funding of the LWCF program, as Congress intended, the legislation will finally ensure an adequate and permanent investment in America’s natural, cultural, and recreational heritage.
Why LWCF is important to Washington State:
- LWCF has funded critical additions to federal public lands such as Mount Rainier and Olympic National Park, Pacific Crest Trail and Cascade Ecosystems, Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, Columbia River Gorge and the Skagit Wild and Scenic River. LWCF-funded land protection has direct benefits to the protection and restoration of Puget Sound’s watersheds.
- The LWCF state assistance grants have helped protect parks, trails, fishing access sites and playgrounds across Washington State including the Sacagawea Heritage Trail in Benton County to Fallen Leaf Lake in Clark County to Tacoma Narrows in Pierce County. These close-to-home recreation opportunities are essential to public health and getting our nation’s youth outdoors.
- Protection of public lands, and the scenic and recreational amenities they provide, supports our local economies. Today, active outdoor recreation activities generate over $11.7 billion in revenues annually to Washington’s economy and support 115,000 jobs. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that each year over 2.7 million people participate in hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching in Washington contributing over $3 billion to the state economy.
- Without full, dedicated funding to LWCF, critical land and water conservation needs and opportunities across Washington may be lost forever.
More Detailed LWCF Talking Points
The Land and Water Conservation Fund
(LWCF) balances the extraction and sale of federal natural resources - offshore
oil and gas - with the permanent protection of important lands and waters and
access to recreation for all Americans. Authorized in 1965, LWCF is an enduring
conservation legacy that makes even greater sense today in the face of what
could be the greatest environmental disaster of our time- the oil spill in the
Gulf of Mexico.
LWCF is authorized to receive a very small percentage of outer continental shelf (OCS) revenue- up to $900 million a year from revenues totaling $18 billion in 2008 and $6 billion in 2009. Over the years, however, Congress and various Administrations have not spent the full $900 million annually and have diverted these funds from their intended purpose. Today, the LWCF has an authorized balance of more than $17 billion- a $17 billion unkept promise!
LWCF is the only account that provides a specific conservation benefit from federal energy development. Now is the time to ensure that LWCF becomes a true dedicated fund to protect these receipts from being diverted to unrelated spending.
A recent national bipartisan poll shows strong support for the continued use of oil and gas fees for land and water protection and for fully funding the LWCF at $900 million annually. An overwhelming majority of voters -- 86 percent -- support committing funds from offshore drilling fees to LWCF (up 5 percent from June 2009).
LWCF has always been predicated on the idea that the depletion of one national, non-renewable natural resource must be balanced by the long-term protection of threatened habitats, beaches, waterways, and other special places across America. Now is the time to renew our nation's commitment to land and water conservation through full and dedicated funding of LWCF.
Congressional action on energy legislation is imminent, so please contact your Senators today!