Thursday, July 23, 2020

U.S. House Votes To Approve Bipartisan Land & Water Conservation Fund Bill Sending It To President; 5 Republicans In PA Vote Against The Bill

On July 22, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 310-107 to approve the Great American Outdoors Act, which would fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and make critical investments in our national park system, state and local public lands.
The bill now goes to the president for his promised signature.

Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation generally supported the bipartisan proposal, but Republicans Sen. Pat Toomey, and Congressmen Scott Perry, Fred Keller, John Joyce and Guy Reschenthaler voted no. Read more here.

[Note: Later in the week, all nine Republican members of Pennsylvania’s Congressional Delegation voted against the appropriations bill increasing funding for the federal Chesapeake Bay Program, including: Brian Fitzpatrick, Fred Keller, Mike Kelly, John Joyce, Dan Meuser, Scott Perry, Guy Reschenthaler, Lloyd Smucker and Glenn Thompson.  Read more here.] 

“At a time when our country needs to create jobs and rebuild local economies while also protecting nature and places where everyone can recreate outdoors, the Great American Outdoors Act answers the call on all fronts,” said Jennifer Morris, CEO of The Nature Conservancy

“This significant investment in nature and public lands and the resulting job creation is really an investment in our communities, our economy and our future. It is the most important U.S. conservation bill in a generation, creating a lasting path for the future of our public lands while supporting jobs and our well-being.

“Fully and permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund and caring for America’s national parks and other public lands signals a lasting commitment to nature and a recognition of all the benefits nature provides. 

“This act provides critical support for longstanding efforts to protect public lands, restore public places to be safer and more enjoyable, and increase access to nature for all communities. This commitment to conservation will pay economic, health and societal dividends for generations to come.

“This victory would not have happened without the dedication of many champions, and they have our deepest gratitude. We now urge the president to quickly sign the bill into law.”

The bill combines two conservation proposals that each have strong, bipartisan support. 

The first would provide full and permanent funding of $900 million each year for LWCF, an amount derived from offshore oil and gas revenues – not tax dollars. 

A recent economic analysis shows that every $1 million invested in LWCF could support between 16 and 30 jobs. 

Additionally, research on the impact of the LWCF shows that $1 spent generates $4 in economic value from natural resource goods and services alone.

The second part of the bill would invest $1.9 billion annually for the next five years toward maintenance in national parks, other public lands and at the Bureau of Indian Education. 

Over $20 billion in direct visitor spending is disseminated each year to local communities adjacent to national park sites. 

A recent National Park Service study of maintenance investments in this legislation found that it will support an average of 40,300 direct jobs and a total of 100,100 direct and indirect jobs over the next five years.

The legislation – introduced in March by Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and eight original cosponsors – passed just weeks after it cleared the U.S. Senate 73-25 and matches legislation introduced by a bipartisan group of 12 House lawmakers in June. 

The bill now heads to the president, who earlier this year voiced his support for the bill.


Cap-Star: PA Lawmakers Join Bipartisan Vote On Public Lands Bill, Trump To Sign It

The Guardian: Congress Approves Billions For U.S. National Parks In Rare Bipartisan Push

The Hill: Congress Passes Land & Water Conservation Fund Bill Sending  It To Trump

[Posted: July 23, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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