Cantwell Calls on Congressional Leadership to Ensure Full Funding of Land and Water Conservation Fund
Bipartisan group of senators wants to ensure vital program receives $900 million annually
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, sent a bipartisan letter calling on leaders of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives to fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at the $900 million level authorized by Congress. That authorization was made permanent by legislation Cantwell authored, which was signed into law in February.
“As you work to enact legislation that will address Federal funding needs for fiscal year 2020 and beyond, we urge you to seize the opportunity for including a bipartisan win for future generations—full, permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (‘LWCF’). This investment would protect and conserve our national parks and public lands, support the nation’s $887 billion outdoor recreation economy, and finally fulfill the original promise of the LWCF,” the senators wrote.
Today’s letter follows the February passage of Cantwell’s bipartisan legislation to permanently reauthorize the LWCF and the April introduction of her bill to permanently fund the LWCF at the newly authorized level of $900 million a year. Over its 55-year history, and despite dedicated funding from offshore oil and gas revenues, the LWCF has received less than half of its authorized levels – a shortfall of $22 billion.
“We strongly urge Congressional leaders to seize the historic opportunity and enact legislation to this longstanding priority in the 116th Congress,” the senators continued. “We look forward to working with you as you begin consideration of funding for fiscal year 2020 and beyond.”
The LWCF, our country’s most successful conservation program, helps support Washington state’s robust outdoor recreation economy, which is responsible for 201,000 direct jobs, $26.2 billion in annual consumer spending, and $7.6 billion in wages and salaries. Since its creation, LWCF has supported more than 600 projects in Washington state, including popular recreation sites such as Olympic National Park, Lake Chelan, and Riverside State Park. Thousands of Washingtonians have benefited from access to trails, outdoor recreation opportunities, clean air, and water preservation, which would not have been possible without the conservation funding provided by the LWCF.
In addition to Cantwell, the letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Richard Burr (R-NC), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Steve Daines (R-MT), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM).
The full letter can be found HERE and below:
Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, and Minority Leader McCarthy:
As you work to enact legislation that will address Federal funding needs for fiscal year 2020 and beyond, we urge you to seize the opportunity for including a bipartisan win for future generations—full, permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (“LWCF”). This investment would protect and conserve our national parks and public lands, support the nation’s $887 billion outdoor recreation economy, and finally fulfill the original promise of the LWCF.
Addressing this priority at this time makes fiscal sense. First enacted in 1964, Congress created the LWCF so that America’s conservation and recreation priorities would be funded through revenues generated from oil and gas leasing in the Outer Continental Shelf, among other activities—not taxpayer funds. Since then, this program has protected and expanded access for conservation and recreation in all 50 states. Congress took a very important step this year when it permanently reauthorized the LWCF at $900 million per year. However, the LWCF has reached a funding level of $900 million only twice in its nearly 55-year-history—this despite federal revenues from offshore energy development well in excess of $900 million annually. The dedicated LWCF fund within the U.S. Treasury has collected approximately $40.9 billion during its lifespan, with appropriations of only $18.9 billion during the same time period. The time has come to match permanent authorization with permanent funding—as envisioned in 1964—to ensure much-needed investment in our public lands and continuity for the state, tribal, and non-federal partners who depend on them.
We strongly urge Congressional leaders to seize the historic opportunity and enact legislation to accomplish this longstanding priority in the 116th Congress. We look forward to working with you as you begin consideration of funding for fiscal year 2020 and beyond.
Next Article Previous Article