As federal revenue from oil and gas has declined amid the coronavirus pandemic, the top Republican on the House Natural Resource Committee is calling for a delay on a vote on a public lands bill.
The Hill reports that Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah is pushing to postpone a vote on the Great American Outdoors Act.
The bill, which has bipartisan support, proposes using mostly offshore oil and gas revenues to permanently fund a conservation program known as the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
A floor vote is scheduled for Wednesday. The Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act last month in a 73-25 vote. President Donald Trump has also indicated he supports the legislation.
Bishop, who is against permanently funding the LWCF, said the vote should be delayed after a Congressional Research Service report published last week found an 84% drop in offshore drilling funds sent to the government in May compared to the same month in 2019.
“Given what has been confirmed by the Congressional Research Service and knowing how this language is drafted, it would be ludicrous for House Democrats to move forward with this bill without amendment,” Bishop said in a statement Monday, adding that the report "has just confirmed that these revenue streams have evaporated due to the pandemic."
Companies that drill for oil and gas on public lands and waters pay the federal government based on how much energy they produce. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, some companies have cut back on drilling or applied for lower royalty rates, which lowered prices.
Bishop said he does back portions of the bill that help address a maintenance backlog for national parks.
He has pitched an amendment that would allow LWCF funds to be used for priority deferred maintenance projects if there’s a revenue shortfall.
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