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Land and Water Conservation Fund Update
Despite positive moves, it expired on September 30
Our biggest and single most important opportunity for sustained conservation funding lies in successfully completing our campaign to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) with full, permanent, dedicated funding. AMC has been working toward this goal for many years as a regional leader within the national LWCF Coalition, comprised of over 1000 organizations, businesses, and community organizations. LWCF is the sole source of funds for federal land acquisition inside the borders of our National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, National Forests, and other federal lands.
It also funds a variety of state and local grants that empower communities to protect their drinking water, expand close-to-home recreation opportunities, conserve open space and wildlife habitat, save historic and cultural treasures, and grow their economies by growing the natural infrastructure of the outdoor recreation economy while also protecting working forests and ranches.
2018 has been a climactic year in this campaign, as AMC and the national Coalition faced the second expiration of LWCF in just three years, as well as concerted attacks on the program’s funding. Learning from the experience of successfully saving LWCF in 2015 (though only for the short term), we kicked off a year-long countdown to raise the visibility of LWCF, underscore to the public and lawmakers what is at stake, and bolster our Congressional champions on both sides of the aisle to fight for permanent authorization and full, dedicated funding of LWCF.
Status: January 2019
The House bill to reauthorize and permanently fund LWCF (H.R.502) was finally released by the Committee on Natural Resources (where it had been stalled for almost 2 years) during the lame duck legislative session in December of 2018; but was not voted on. In addition, LWCF reauthorization was added to a Public Lands package bill during the same lame duck session, but that also failed to pass. All bills died at the end of the 115th congress.
However, the original sponsor of H.R.502, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), is the new chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources and he has indicated that he will introduce legislation to reauthorize LWCF again very soon. With the new leadership it is expected the bill will quickly move out of committee and be scheduled for a vote in the House. In the Senate, reauthorization has been added to a large natural resource bill, S.47, and it is likely that Senator Richard Burr [R-NC] will also introduce a specific bill.
So there is reason to be optimistic that this valuable conservation program will be functioning and funded again soon. Please continue to contact your elected officials to keep this on their radar.
ATC TO FERC: Halt the Mountain valley Pipeline
The Appalachian Tarai Conservancy (ATC0 submitted comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in response to an open public comment period regarding FERC’s 1999 Natural Gas Policy Statement – note, we added your club to the comments, making a powerful statement. Today, we distributed the attached release which provides strong commentary about Mountain Valley Pipeline and outlines the major points we have made to FERC. Most importantly, our release points out that 30 clubs representing nearly 6,000 volunteers stand behind the commentary that FERC must be more responsive in considering special places like the Appalachian Trail.
We have posted the final comments and the news release on our recently updated web page regarding MVP, which I encourage you to check out: www.appalachiantrail.org/mvp.
Many of you may have heard that last week a federal judge issued a stay of the MVP permit in West Virginia, delaying the pipeline developer’s timeline for months, or longer. The news has been a bright spot for ATC staff, our clubs and our partners who have been on the front lines as this action endorses what we’ve been saying all along – MVP is a damaging and inappropriate project.
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to tour the area where the pipeline will be located. The tour – with several ATC staff, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, former RATC president and long-time pipeline opponent Diana Christopulos, a representative from FERC, and representatives from MVP and its contractors – was, quite frankly, sickening. The damage this project has made to the A.T. and to the communities around Roanoke is undeniable – and we’ve yet to see the worst part when the gashes become wider and the pipeline is installed. Already, dozens of huge earthmovers have torn down broad swaths of trees on the steep mountainsides and bright yellow do-not-cross police tape is evident, a leftover of the public protests that included people sitting in trees. On our tour, we ran into several A.T. hikers who seemed confused and dismayed. While I could go on about my impressions of that tour, I will stop and let you know that ATC is committed to doing whatever we can in monitoring, mitigating and, perhaps, seeing this bad project fully stopped.
Legislation that could address some of the issues we are facing
Please know that we are also working with congressional leaders on the Pipeline Fairness and Transparency Act, and collaborating and communicating with our partners and allies. While not much legislation is passing in Congress, ATC has not given up. We hope you will continue to stand strong with us. Again, thank you for your earnest and timely support of this initiative and all you do for the Trail.
Suzanne Dixon, President & CEO. Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Contact the Conservation Committee Chair (firstname.lastname@example.org) to:
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► Find out more on any issues listed on this page
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