The Biden administration praised conservation programs that were funded by bipartisan legislation in 2020. However, it did not mention that these programs are largely funded by federal revenues from fossil fuel drilling.
In a joint statement on Thursday, the Department of the Interior and Agriculture Departments praised the Legacy Restoration Fund and Land and Water Conservation Fund. Both funds were designated in the Great American Outdoors Act. The agencies stated that the programs will allow them to spend $2.8 Billion on various conservation projects in fiscal year 2024.
The Great American Outdoors Act will allow us to improve the infrastructure of our public lands and invest in our economy. It also allows us to honor our commitment to Tribal Communities, Interior Secretary Deb haaland stated in a press release.
The Great American Outdoors Act Legacy Restoration Fund will allow us to improve access for recreationists, create jobs, and advance community well-being.
The Great American Outdoors Act, which was signed by former President Donald Trump in August 2020 following its passage with veto proof majorities in both the Senate and House, allocates $1.9 billion annually to the LRF to pay for the maintenance of public lands that had been deferred and $900 million to the LWCF to fund various conservation and recreational programs.
The funding for both programs and other laws is derived from various forms of energy production on federal lands or waters. The vast majority of this funding comes from fossil fuels – mainly the development of oil, gas, and coal.
Using data from the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, 90% of the $9.6 Billion in federal energy revenues generated during this fiscal year came from royalties on fossil fuels. The rest of the federal energy revenue came from other commodities such as geothermal resources, mineral resources, and wind development. These have only accounted for 0.5%.
Hannah Downey of the Property and Environment Research Center testified at a congressional hearing in 2013 that “all funding for the Great American Outdoors Act is from energy development on federal land and offshore waters.” In fact, federal energy revenue has long been a significant source of funding for conservation and recreational activities on public lands.
The announcement made by the Biden administration on Thursday did not mention the source for the conservation programs that were praised. The administration, led the Department of the Interior has tried to reduce the amount of land or waters that are leased out for fossil fuel production. This could potentially cut down on the government’s revenue in the future.
Since President Joe Biden’s election, the Department of the Interior only conducted a few onshore lease sales. These auctions were only held after a federal court issued an injunction to block the president’s moratorium on drilling. The agency also hasn’t held any lease sales offshore that were not otherwise legally mandated and proposed a plan for blocking all leasing until 2028.
According to a report by the American Petroleum Institute and the National Ocean Industries Association, the LWCF could lose up to $420,000,000 a year in funding if the Department of the Interior limits future offshore oil-and-gas leasing.
After the Great American Outdoors Act passed in 2020, NOIA President Erik Milito stated that “America’s legacy of conservation and outdoor recreation is strengthened by a healthy off-shore oil and gas sector. This industry is a major source of funding to conservation programs in all 50 states.”
He continued, “The funding for GAOA comes from energy activities that take place on federal land. It is even more crucial to protect Gulf of Mexico Energy Production, because without it, millions of dollars of funding will be lost for conservation and recreation programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund.”
A spokesperson from the Department of the Interior stated Thursday that the agency will continue to enforce the law.
Interior spokesperson Melissa Schwartz said to Fox News Digital that the department would continue to follow the law. This includes the implementation of the Great American Outdoors Act as well as the Inflation Reduction Act.