Congress established the Land and Water Conservation Fund in 1964 in a bipartisan commitment to safeguard our natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities for all. The fund invests earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing to help strengthen communities, preserve our history and protect our national endowment of lands and waters. The LWCF program provides grants to State and local governments, and to federal land management agencies to achieve the their natural, cultural, wildlife, and recreation management objectives. Although the program is authorized to receive $900 million per year, historically less than half that amount is ultimately appropriated. We recommend that Congress provide sustainable long term funding and support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The House Natural Resources Committee passed a bill on September 13 to permanently reauthorize the program, but without a full-funding guarantee. The Senate bill, authored by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), included the full-funding guarantee. That stipulation is supported by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who chairs the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, but amounts to a “deal-breaker” for Rep. Bishop, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee. The Senate failed to vote on that bill on September 25. The Fund expired on September 30 because “Republican leaders let it expire, not because it’s controversial,” and they “shouldn’t hold the program hostage in the lame duck session between the Nov. 6 elections and the end of the 115th Congress,” according to Ranking Member Raul Grijalva (D-AZ).
See the Congressional testimony about the Fund on behalf of The City Project, GreenLatinos, Praxis Project, Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Water Action, and Nature for All (July 2018).
House Leader Nancy Pelosi, with Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva and Environmental Message Team (EMT) Co-Chairs A. Donald McEachin, Earl Blumenauer, and Kathy Castor, called on the people to support “Public Health, Public Lands, Clean Water, Clean Air, and Clean Government!” at the Congressional Forum on People Over Pollution in Washington, D.C., on July 11, 2018.