In the News  Archive

Schumer demands restoration of Land and Water Conservation Fund

Press Republican
Saturday, November 7, 2015

By KIM SMITH DEDAM

LAKE PLACID — Federal stop-gap budget measures have entirely eliminated the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

And in Lake Placid Friday, New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer said the cut threatens critical job provision, along with environmental and recreational programs throughout this region.

It has real consequences for the economy, both in the North Country and across the country, he said.

“This is a casualty of fighting in (Washington) D.C. They’ve tied the House in a knot.”

BILLIONS INVESTED
Current federal budget extensions remain in place through Dec. 31.

“We need to authorize and fully fund this as soon as possible,” New York’s senior senator said.

"For 50 years, the LWCF has provided $3.9 billion to states for over 40,000 local projects."

He delivered remarks from Peacock Park, a public space at Lake Mirror Beach in Lake Placid. The beach is open and free for public use in the summer, shared by thousands of local residents, children and even Ironman athletes who train and compete from this shore.

“For five decades, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has provided millions in federal funding for dozens of parks in the North Country and across Upstate New York.

"In the process, it has generated billions in economic activity and created over 300,000 jobs in New York state."

And it generated $33.8 billion in consumer spending.

“That’s why it is completely unacceptable that Congress failed to reauthorize this critical program," Schumer said.

KEYSTONE
Pairing this cut with President Barack Obama’s decision earlier in the day to reject Canadian plans to build the Keystone XL pipeline, Schumer said that if Congress truly wants to support jobs, it would restore the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Schumer agreed with Obama’s Keystone decision.

“Now that we have found so much oil and gas in America, we don’t need it. There are much better ways to spend money to create jobs, including the LWCF.”

Land and Water Conservation Fund money is not derived from taxes, Schumer explained. It is generated by revenue from offshore oil permits.

According to the LWCF Coalition, “every year, $900 million in royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and gas on the Outer Continental Shelf are put into this fund.”

It supports programs run by the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Obama’s budget plan for conservation funding in 2016 includes important conservation efforts around the United States, including one project at Gettysburg National Military Park.

'POLITICS' CITED
The message Schumer delivered Friday fell on sharp ears in the Adirondacks.

Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism President Jim McKenna, North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi and Olympic Regional Development

Authority CEO Ted Blazer backed the senator’s stance, given the importance of both park preservation and recreation in this region.

Adirondack Council Executive Director William Janeway said the Adirondack Park is truly a national treasure and that every dollar spent
here is money well spent.

“Washington politics should not kill a valuable, popular and bipartisan program,” Janeway said, thanking Schumer for his efforts.

RYAN'S ROLE
Asked if he thought newly elected House Speaker Sen. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) would be effective in developing a bipartisan approach to decisions like this in Washington, Schumer said he is a “guy who likes compromise.”

But, Schumer added, Ryan is constrained by conservative members of his party.

“The Freedom Caucus is really retrograde,” the senator said.

Still, Schumer seemed optimistic about restoring the Conservation Fund by the end of December.

“It’s a real crime that we don’t have that program renewal. I’m urging the Congress to do it. Whatever clout I have in Washington, I’m going to use it,” he said.

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