Republican News

WASHINGTON, D.C.– “The Interior Appropriation Committee has substituted end-of-the-year smoke and mirrors for the Conservation and Re-investment Act, CARA,” said Chairman Frank H. Murkowski. “It is possible that none of the accounts might ever be appropriated at all. Nothing says the accounts have to be funded. And, because this program does not have formulas for state and local money, it can all be absorbed in Washington, D.C.” Murkowski is very disappointed in the decision to accept the Rep. Norm Dicks language in the Interior Appropriation measure. The Chairman helped to put together the CARA bill with the intention of giving assurances to states and local communities that they would receive money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. That fund was established to take royalties from a non-renewable resource, off-shore oil drilling, and invest it back into the nation in the form of recreation facilities and open spaces. “There is nothing in the appropriation measure that allows funding to come to the states. It may follow the Clinton Administration practice of keeping the entire account for federal land acquisition. This result is exactly what we fought against. And many of those who were against any account for federal land acquisition in CARA will simply see that account increased with no controls over the funds,” warned Murkowski. “Creating new soccer fields and recreational facilities for our children is now in jeopardy.” Congressman Dicks says that this program includes many elements of the Conservation and Re-investment Act of 2000. “CARA would have been the greatest investment ever in recreation and conservation. Unfortunately the Dicks’ proposal falls woefully short,” said the Chairman. “Let me give you an example. The regular Historic Preservation account is authorized at $150 million. The Urban Parks authorization is $125 million and Urban and Community Forestry is about $35 million. Yet all these programs are rolled into a $160 million cap under the Dicks’ proposal. “There is no guarantee this money will ever be used to create a park where urban children might play.” “We tried to help coastal communities that are adversely impacted by activities related to offshore oil and gas development. We wanted them to decide how best to use the funds. Instead money is going into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to fund programs Washington deems important,” said Murkowski. Some 65 senators have said they would vote for the CARA measure. The National Governors’ Association and some 5,000 organizations support the CARA bill. “That kind of support will keep the CARA bill in play,” said the Chairman. ###