While we were all being distracted by the debates and other nonsense, something terrible happened that you probably didn’t hear squat about. Republicans just killed the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and they did it in a sneaky, back-room way.
If there were an actual vote to reauthorize the fund, it would probably pass with an 80% Congressional vote. When it was originally passed back in 1964, the vote was 92-1 in the Senate. Even though you probably haven’t heard its name before, you have certainly benefited from it.
The LWCF has bought land for neighborhood playgrounds, paid for 60% of the Appalachian Trail, preserved large parts of the Columbia Gorge, Mt Rainier National Park, many Civil War memorials, state beaches, even a pier in San Francisco Bay. More recently it funded 93% of the Flight 93 National Memorial in Stoystown, Penn, which honors the hijacked flight that crashed there on 9/11.
And it does all this without any taxpayer money. It is entirely funded from royalties from offshore oil and gas leases. So it does wonderful things, doesn’t add to the deficit, and enjoys bipartisan popularity. It should have been reauthorized easily.
But instead it was killed in committee by the Republican chair of the House Natural Resources committee.
Some people say the law needs to be changed, or at least updated to take into account modern needs. If so, then let’s do it. Letting it expire is just stupid. Funds to maintain public lands will now have to come from taxpayers. It is yet another massive giveaway to the fossil fuel industry.
Once upon a time, conservatives were interested in conservation. Now they are just interested in conserving their big campaign contributions.