Fight Looms With Obama Over Conservation

Tuesday, 11 Oct 2011 11:03 AM

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A fight is brewing over funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund that was created in 1965 to preserve open space. President Barack Obama has allowed reductions in the past but now is warning that he will veto the House Interior spending bill because of cuts, The Washington Post reported.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told the Post that the bill would bring conservation “as close to zero as it’s been in modern times.” The fund is supposed to get $900 million a year from offshore oil and gas fees to pay for land acquisitions and other programs. However, the 2011 figure was just over $300 million, and the 2012 amount is at $95 million, according to the Post.

About half of the funding goes toward federal land acquisition with the rest used for state and local grants to support recreation areas and habitat and forest protection. However, Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, told the Post, “It is mind-boggling stupid to think the federal government should own one-third of America and not be satisfied with that.

“It’s impossible, when you’re trying to contract the budget and get some savings. Nobody with a straight face can say that we should be expanding our holdings,” said Bishop, chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.

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