Democratic News

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, requested immediate passage of new legislation she introduced to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Republican Senator James Lankford objected, preventing Sen. Cantwell’s effort to reauthorize the program.

The LWCF protects national parks, forests, public lands and historical sites, and it provides opportunities for hunting, fishing, hiking and other recreational uses. The authorization for this critical program expired for the first time in its 50-year history on September 30. The LWCF supports more than $656 billion in economic activity and more than 6 million jobs nationwide. In the state of Washington alone, active outdoor recreation contributes more than $11.7 billion annually to the economy and it produces $8.5 billion annually in retail sales and services across the state. It is a successful program, good for both the environment and the economy.

Sen. Cantwell has seized multiple opportunities to reinstate the program. This week, Sen. Cantwell sent a letter to Republican leadership, offering to work together to “expedite consideration and debate” on a bill to reauthorize the program. Yesterday, Sen. Cantwell went to the Senate floor, along with Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), urging immediate action on reauthorization of the nation’s most successful conservation program. In addition to today’s legislation, Sen. Cantwell introduced S. 890, a bill to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the program, and included provisions in both the bipartisan energy bill (S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act) and the Democratic energy bill she authored (S. 2089, the American Energy Innovation Act). Today marks her latest effort to prevent special interests from putting our natural heritage at risk.

Read the full text of her statement below:

“Mr. President, if I could continue, because I am very disappointed that these objections are now proceeding. Just to be clear, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has been around for 51 years, and this is the first time in the history of the Land and Water Conservation Fund that it’s expired.

“So I hope that sportsmen, fishermen, everybody who loves the outdoors and participates in the outdoor economy will call their senators and make sure that they understand that these are important bills to pass.

“We don’t want to become the ‘hold-up’ Senate, where you can’t get the Export-Import Bank finally past the finish line, where you can’t get the Land and Water Conservation Fund passed – things that have worked for decades and decades, that are bipartisan, that the majority of members on both sides support. And all it is, is about making sure that they can get a vote.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund has supported more than six million jobs nationwide, as part of outdoor recreation. And it is credited with over $900 from outer continental shelf drilling. So those gas receipts paid for this open space that then generates more to our economy by having outdoor recreation opportunities.

“So, every state, I’m sure, will hear from cities, from counties, from organizations, from sportsmen, who will say – let’s get this bipartisan legislation passed. Let’s continue our efforts as a conservation country to invest in the things that will help grow our outdoor economy.

“I hope my colleague will stop coming to the floor and objecting to this. I know that there are members on both sides of the aisle that have tried to get this passed. And I hope that when we return in a week that we will find a path forward and say that this is a priority, that after 51 years of this legislation, we haven’t lost our mind as it relates to how important outdoor recreation economies are to our country. I thank the president. I yield the floor.”