Great American Outdoors Act Passed by Senate

06/19/2020 2:00 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

The Great American Outdoors Act, a bill that funds repairs at American’s national parks and fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), passed the Senate this week in a 73-25 vote. The bill now moves to the House, which is expected to take up the bill before July 4.

The Great American Outdoors Act will invest $1.9 billion annually for the next five years in deferred maintenance for lands managed by the National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Education. Performing this work will also provide jobs in nearly every state.

The bill would also provide full and permanent funding of $900 million each year for LWCF. These monies come from offshore oil and gas revenues – not tax dollars. Since 1965, the LWCF has helped preserve historic sites, cultural parks, battlefields, and archaeological sites. Examples of these sites include: Fort Monroe National Monument, Gettysburg National Military Park, Nez Perce National Historical Park, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, and Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The bill is supporting by both environmental groups and oil and gas industry organizations alike. From the Washington Post:

Virtually every major environmental group supported the bill. So too does the oil and gas industry, happy to take credit for providing money to fix parks.

“It highlights the role we already play in conservation,” said Kathleen Sgamma, head of the Western Energy Alliance.

Despite that support, nearly half of Senate Republicans voted against the bill.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), long skeptical of the LWCF, decried the idea of the U.S. government seizing more land in states such as his, where federal agencies control nearly two out of every three acres.

And some Southern representatives, such as Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), wanted more money to go toward shoreline restoration along the Gulf of Mexico, where so much oil drilling that generates money for the programs takes place.

“The Senate missed an opportunity to invest in coastal resiliency to protect against flooding and hurricanes,” Cassidy said. “The coast needs this money for its communities to survive. This fight is not over.”

Read the full Washington Post analysis of the bill here, and stay tuned to the ACRAsphere for more information as the House takes up the Great American Outdoors Act.

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