From: alra@governance.net
Subject: LWCF – CARA Heads For Conference Committee Vote

Land Rights Network
American Land Rights Association
PO Box 400 – Battle Ground, WA 98604
Phone: 360-687-3087 – Fax: 360-687-2973 
E-mail: alra@landrights.org or alra@governance.net  
Web Address: http://www.landrights.org 
Legislative Office: 507 Seward Square SE – Washington, DC 20003

LWCF – CARA Heads For Conference Committee Vote

Action Items:

Stop Liberal Lamar Alexander’s  Billion Dollar Boondoggle

-----1.  Call your Congressman to urge him to tell the Conferees to oppose the sneak attack funding for LWCF – CARA.  It is $350 million per year snuck in as a dark of night attack by Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.  It totals over a billion dollars for environmental groups and land acquisition.  The House version is (H Con Res 95).

Call any Congressman at (202) 225-3121.

----2.  Call both your Senators at (202) 224-3121. 
The Senate version is (S Con Res 18).

Below is an optimistic assessment.  Please don’t fail to call.


From Federal Parks and Recreation Newsletter talks about LWCF- CARA

APRIL 1, 2005

CONSERVATION FUND ON THE LINE.  ANWR allocation plan faces major snags.  Long road from budget set-aside to enactment.  LWCF advocates ask for major spending increases in fiscal 2006.


	The Senate approval March 16 of a $350 million conservation fund from oil and gas leasing on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) has a long way to go before it becomes a reality.

	Although the Senate approved the provision by a 51-to-49 vote as a set-aside in a fiscal year 2006 Congressional budget resolution (S Con Res 18), final passage of the budget is far from a certainty.  In addition final passage of a "reconciliation" bill later this summer to provide legislative language that would implement the budget provision is also far from a certainty.

	The immediate hurdle is a House-Senate conference committee that is expected to meet this month to work out differences between S Con Res 18 and a House-passed budget (H Con Res 95).  While the House-passed budget does not mention ANWR and the conservation fund, it does indirectly make room for an ANWR fund when it calls for reduced energy spending by authorizing committees.

	Explained a House Budget Committee staff member this week, "Our budget says the (House) Energy and Commerce and Resources Committees shall find $11 billion in savings, so both bills have (an ANWR provision of sorts.)  The Senate provision is more direct when it mentions ANWR specifically.  Our bill doesn't say where the savings shall be achieved."

	In recent years the Senate and House have failed to agree on a Congressional budget at least half the time.  And this year the Senate and House are already at loggerheads over such macro issues as Medicaid and Social Security.  So if the two houses fail to reach agreement in conference, would Hill rules forbid the writing of reconciliation legislation to implement the fund?

	Yes, no and maybe, said our budget expert.  "If there is no conference bill, there will be no reconciliation, absolutely," he said.  But, added the Republican staff member, "We do have a fall back position.  If each House approves a budget, as they have, they can 'deem' to have completed a budget."  That would allow House and Senate leaders to establish spending caps for appropriations committees, for example.  

	And the deemed budget means authorizing committees may write specific bills, such as to establish a conservation fund for ANWR, that are separate from a reconciliation bill.  The big catch there is, supporters of ANWR leasing would have to come up with 60 votes to defeat a filibuster of non-reconciliation legislation, and they clearly don't have the 60 votes.  A reconciliation bill, however, would only require a 50-vote margin.

	So, if the House and Senate don't agree on a budget, does that explicitly mean the House and Senate can't write a reconciliation bill that wraps all authorizing legislation into one monster measure?  "That hasn't been fully decided yet," said the budget staff member. 

	The Senate conservation fund, if enacted, would provide money for the state and federal sides of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a Forest Legacy program managed by the Forest Service, and a Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program in the Department of Commerce.  The provision doesn't say how much money each program would receive; that would be determined in a reconciliation bill.  Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is principal architect of the provision.

	If Alexander gets his way, the $350 million would be guaranteed and would not be taken out of appropriations.  However, there is nothing to prevent appropriators from providing less money in regular appropriations bills.

	Complicating things for Alexander, both conservationists and property rights advocates oppose the Senate ANWR provision, as we reported in the last issue of FPR.  Conservationists abhor ANWR leasing, even with the fund provision.  And property rights advocates, even though they favor ANWR development, oppose the leasing provision as long as it includes conservation spending.

	In a separate development, interest groups March 18 had their day to submit recommendations to the House Appropriations Committee for fiscal year 2006 spending.  Both environmentalists and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) criticized an administration recommendation that Congress terminate the state side of LWCF.  (That recommendation spurred Alexander to develop the ANWR conservation fund plan in the first place.)

	Said NRPA on recommending $100 million for state grants, "(W)e believe the stated rationale for these actions reflects limited awareness of program purpose, public and personal health imperatives, long-term value and results arising from investments, and fiscal conditions of state and local governments."  The administration counters that the program hasn't demonstrated achievements.  But NRPA says the program has helped build thousands of state and local park and rec facilities over the last three decades.  

	As usual environmentalists recommended full funding of $450 million for the federal side of LWCF.  They are well aware that the chairman of the House subcommittee on Interior appropriations, Rep. Charles Taylor (R-N.C.) loathes the program and attempted to zero it out last year.

	"His track record is his track record," said Sarah Niemeyer, director of budget for The Wilderness Society.  "Our saving in the past has always been in the Senate."   

	Both Tindall and Niemeyer object to an administration proposal to continue to transfer LWCF money to non-traditional programs, such as endangered species protection.  Testified Niemeyer, "Again this year in an attempt to make LWCF look 'full,' the Administration shoehorns in numerous additional unrelated programs.  This was done to mask real cuts in funding for land acquisition."

	For the federal side of LWCF in fiscal year 2006 the administration recommended a federal side appropriation of $156.2 million, compared to a fiscal 2005 appropriation of $165.2 million.  For the state side of LWCF the administration recommended no money, compared to a fiscal 2005 appropriation of $92.5 million.

Federal Parks & Recreation is published by Resources Publishing Co., P.O. BOX 41320, Arlington, VA 22204.  EIN 52-1363538.  Phone (703) 553-0552.  FAX (703) 553-0558.  E-mail james.b.coffin@verizon.net.  Website: http://www.publiclandsnews.com.

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