Use Promo Code Randy for 20% off OutdoorClass

Interior misses Great American Outdoors Act deadline

Ben Lamb

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 6, 2010
Messages
17,758
Location
Cedar, MI

This story was updated at 9:48 a.m. EST.

A triumphant bill-signing ceremony at the White House, where Republicans allowed President Trump to compare himself to Teddy Roosevelt. Enough talking points to fill several campaign ads for two of the Senate's most vulnerable Republican incumbents.

After the pomp and circumstance of enacting the Great American Outdoors Act — the "holy grail" of conservation legislation for which advocates have been clamoring for decades — the Trump administration has missed a key deadline for implementation of the landmark law.

Furthermore, the administration is offering no guidance about when it plans to turn over the outstanding information, which is necessary for states to move forward on funding outdoor recreation projects and securing federal land acquisitions.

"They failed to deliver a list to Congress, and the Interior Department's apparent lack of action is as disappointing as it is confusing," said Bill Lee, senior vice president of policy, advocacy and government relations for the Trust for Public Land.


"To call this a disappointment," Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) said in agreement, "is charitable."

The Great American Outdoors Act, which was enacted in August, fully and permanently funded the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million annually. It also created a five-year trust fund to address $20 billion worth of deferred maintenance projects at national parks and on public lands.

Yesterday — Election Day eve — was the deadline for Interior to submit to Congress two separate lists of priority projects for fiscal 2021: one for the LWCF, one for the deferred maintenance backlog (E&E Daily, Oct. 28).

The department has submitted the deferred maintenance backlog priority list; the LWCF list is nowhere to be found.

Congressional aides who participated in a call with Interior officials yesterday afternoon were given no details about why the LWCF list was not provided to elected officials — what the holdup was and when they could expect to see something.

"They have no idea when those are going to be submitted," one aide told E&E News.

In a call two hours later with representatives of nonprofits and advocacy groups that worked closely with the administration and Congress on the Great American Outdoors Act, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt also provided no information.

"They ducked, bobbed and weaved and didn't answer the question about where the LWCF lists are," said one source who participated in the call.

Lee, who was also on the call, said Bernhardt told call participants that he interpreted the law as stating that the president was responsible for coming up with the LWCF list, which Lee called "ridiculous."

The Interior press office did not respond to requests for comment.

"Coloradans worked for years to secure full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The fact that the Trump Administration is failing to follow through and meet LWCF deadlines, while not surprising, demonstrates a serious lack of commitment to conservation," Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) said in a statement. "Apparently they've already lost their interest in taking care of our public lands."

'Playing games'​

Multiple sources told E&E News they hadn't been expecting the LWCF list from Interior to differ enormously from the version it sent to lawmakers back in April.

That list included more than $116 million for 61 projects requested by the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as $23.6 million set aside for the federal government to acquire six parcels of public land.

However, an updated list, or even a resubmission of the same list, is necessary for compliance with the Great American Outdoors Act.

LWCF dollars are used for a combination of outdoor recreation projects and federal land acquisitions. Communities and industries are anxious for LWCF money to start flowing to states during an economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and conservationists are concerned that a lack of certainty over funding will cause delicate land sales to fall through (E&E Daily, Oct. 22).

Sources were also warning last week that if there were major discrepancies between the two lists — or if no list materialized at all — that would be a red flag that something was wrong.

Rumors were circulating yesterday that the list was outstanding because Bernhardt was up to something. According to some sources, he had hinted at one point that he would be releasing an implementation memo that might restrict how LWCF dollars can be used.

Lee wouldn't speculate but said the list's absence "sends a really troubling message."

"Everyone was supportive of the law. Seventy percent of the House and Senate — bipartisan — supported it. Everybody who lives the outdoors supported it. And now DOI — it looks like, apparently, the DOI is playing games with it."

"What this tells me is that all they cared about was the press conference in the White House and that they were never serious about public lands, never serious about the Land and Water Conservation Fund, never serious about governing," said Heinrich, a champion of the Great American Outdoors Act. "It was all just a photo op, designed for the campaign."

While Trump himself has not campaigned on the issue extensively, his team has highlighted the act as among the administration's major environmental achievements as it has faced criticisms of regulatory rollbacks and initiatives that are harmful to the environment (E&E Daily, Sept. 9).

The measure has been most widely used as a key plank for two Western Republican senators embroiled in tough reelection bids.

Both Republican Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Steve Daines of Montana have highlighted the legislation in television and video ads.

When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) put the bill on the floor this summer, he made sure they were the faces of the effort and allowed them to essentially take all credit for the measure's passage (Greenwire, Aug. 4).

"Cory Gardner's campaign is ending with ... President Trump failing to deliver on the conservation legislation Gardner has touted in misleading ads for months — breaking his self-proclaimed 'Gardner's Law' on Day 1, which happens to land on the same day Coloradans will vote him out of office," said Alyssa Roberts, a spokeswoman for former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), who is challenging Gardner for his Senate seat.

The Republican lawmaker has referred to the Great American Outdoors Act as "Gardner's Law" in a television ad promoting his candidacy. (Greenwire, Aug. 12).

Neither Gardner nor Daines, however, responded to requests for comment for this story.

Ultimately, Heinrich noted that despite the White House's skipped deadline for the LWCF priority list, Congress can still appropriate funds under the Great American Outdoors Act when it returns for a lame-duck session later this month.

"The good news is the law is the law," he said, adding, "Hopefully, we'll have a different White House to deal with depending on how things go" on Election Day.

Reporter Jennifer Yachnin contributed.
 

Sytes

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 25, 2009
Messages
10,654
Location
Montana
This real or fake news? ;)

Outside the humor fast lane, this is pretty tragic. :(

I take it the Trump Administration is exceptional when it comes to USDA, et al, and the GAOA?
 

Big Fin

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 27, 2000
Messages
15,679
Location
Bozeman, MT
Not surprising, but completely unacceptable. This was as intentional AF. Anyone thinking this was a mere oversight is kidding themselves. The administration has been under pressure from the anti-public land crowd who likes funding maintenance but hates acquisition. So, we get the deferred maintenance list, but we don't get anything related to acquisition, the most important part of the public access benefits provided by LWCF.

So, this is how they caved in to the pressure from the anti-public landers who hold the real levers of power in this administration. It's chickenshit, spineless punks who have handed the reins to the Pendley boot-licking leg-humpers. Not surprising, but irritating as hell.

Where are Daines and Gardner when they got emails and warnings that Interior, USDA, and the Administration were about to drop the ball on the acquisition part of LWCF? I can tell you where, they are nowhere to be found; complete silence.

They sure made a big deal about this bill passing, and almost put their shoulders out of joint to take credit for it. But, when worries started to surface that the list of projects for acquisition would not be submitted in time, the self-congratulatory crowd was absent.

If you were giving them accolades when this passed, which many of us did, I hope you take the time to light them up for this kind of bullshit. It is not even backroom politics, rather a bold out-in-the-open kick in the crotch to public land advocates who were told how much the administration and some vulnerable Senators supported public lands. Smoke and mirrors bullshit. No other way to say it.

A lot of groups went to great lengths to put together projects for funding, only to have this administration and their anti-public land string-pullers make all that great work be for nothing. Now, we have projects that were years in the making, submitted to DOI and USDA for acquisition that won't likely get done in this funding cycle. That delays these projects at least a year, in which time some of the projects might come unwound and never be completed, lost for good.

And where will the $400-500 million of earmarked funding go now that the project list is not submitted? I suspect it will continue to be redirected by Congress to more pet projects. Many saw this coming and for the last couple months have been pressing the issue to make sure this deadline was not missed, only to get a giant FU response.
 
Last edited:

SAJ-99

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Messages
2,640
Location
E Washington
Need to withhold praise until the check clears. This case seems like a deliberate setup. At this point, all I can do is laugh.
 

jryoung

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 16, 2012
Messages
5,303
Location
Unable to determine due to velocity
Not surprising, but completely unacceptable. This was as intentional AF. Anyone thinking this was a mere oversight is kidding themselves. The administration has been under pressure from the anti-public land crowd who likes funding maintenance but hates acquisition. So, we get the deferred maintenance list, but we don't get anything related to acquisition, the most important part of the public access benefits provided by LWCF.

So, this is how they caved in to the pressure from the anti-public landers who hold the real levers of power in this administration. It's chickenshit, spineless punks who have handed the reins to the Pendley boot-licking leg-humpers. Not surprising, but irritating as hell.

Where are Daines and Gardner when they got emails and warnings that Interior, USDA, and the Administration were about to drop the ball on the acquisition part of LWCF? I can tell you where, they are nowhere to be found; complete silence.

They sure made a big deal about this bill passing, and almost put their shoulders out of joint to take credit for it. But, when worries started to surface that the list of projects for acquisition would not be submitted in time, the self-congratulatory crowd was absent.

If you were giving them accolades when this passed, which many of us did, I hope you take the time to light them up for this kind of bullshit. It is not even backroom politics, rather a bold out-in-the-open kick in the crotch to public land advocates who were told how much the administration and some vulnerable Senators supported public lands. Smoke and mirrors bullshit. No other way to say it.

A lot of groups went to great lengths to put together projects for funding, only to have this administration and their anti-public land string-pullers make all that great work be for nothing. Now, we have projects that were years in the making, submitted to DOI and USDA for acquisition that won't likely get done in this funding cycle. That delays these projects at least a year, in which time some of the projects might come unwound and never be completed, lost for good.

And where will the $400-500 million of earmarked funding go now that the project list is not submitted? I suspect it will continue to be redirected by Congress to more pet projects. Many saw this coming and for the last couple months have been pressing the issue to make sure this deadline was not missed, only to get a giant FU response.
dont-sugar-coat-d46c1587ec.jpg
 

Sytes

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 25, 2009
Messages
10,654
Location
Montana
Anyone able to share some mainstream news that's released this news as well? I'm having trouble finding any. Election day can bring out some interesting jabs... not saying this is the case though I'd sure like a few more sources.

Google's not been my friend on this search
 

neffa3

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 17, 2015
Messages
8,365
Location
Wenatchee
I don't blame the politics but the quality, or lack there of, of the individual people we're dealing with.
 

neffa3

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 17, 2015
Messages
8,365
Location
Wenatchee
Anyone able to share some mainstream news that's released this news as well? I'm having trouble finding any. Election day can bring out some interesting jabs... not saying this is the case though I'd sure like a few more sources.

Google's not been my friend on this search

But they basically just quote EE
 

Big Fin

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 27, 2000
Messages
15,679
Location
Bozeman, MT
Anyone able to share some mainstream news that's released this news as well? I'm having trouble finding any. Election day can bring out some interesting jabs... not saying this is the case though I'd sure like a few more sources.

Google's not been my friend on this search
Not sure mainstream media is following it on an historic election day.

I can tell you that staffers on the Senate and House Committees that are involved in these issues have told me personally that only the maintenance backlog lists were submitted on time by Interior and Ag, and the LWCF acquisition lists that many groups had been working on were not submitted. Me and my conversations with folks in DC would not constitute mainstream news, so take my comment for what it is worth.

One of the benefits of being involved in these issues and working with DC folks on the topics is that I can get answers from the actual folks involved, not a reporter who often doesn't know LWCF from WWE. So, even though we are not mainstream news here, unless there is some mass confusion, or some very experienced people misunderstand the new processes, or the list was actually submitted and nobody outside Interior and Ag have the list, I'm going with what I am hearing directly from those in the know.
 

Big Fin

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 27, 2000
Messages
15,679
Location
Bozeman, MT
Just got off the phone with a Senator who sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The Senator verified this intentional omission as fact.

If I had to guess, this is Pendley & Co. getting even for Bullock suing to have him removed as acting BLM Director. As Hal Herring best stated, Pendley and his small circle of now-in-power folks are nothing more than "vandals to the American institution of public lands."
 

44hunter45

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 14, 2019
Messages
3,527
Location
North Idaho
Anyone able to share some mainstream news that's released this news as well? I'm having trouble finding any. Election day can bring out some interesting jabs... not saying this is the case though I'd sure like a few more sources.

Google's not been my friend on this search
Its hard to read anything on CNN & FOX right now without it being outshone by the flashing Biden-Harris ads. Wow!

My own family is telling me I "threw away my vote" when I followed through on my promise not to give Senator Risch my vote after GAOA.
I'm not sorry I did it. When Crapo's turn comes around he'll get the same treatment from me.

I have a very long memory. Longer than anyone on the Potomac, that's for damn sure.

Whatever happens tonight. Trump will skate any consequences of this. If he wins tonight, the first letter he gets will be my demand that Sec. Bernhardt be removed.
 

TOGIE

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 13, 2017
Messages
2,546
Location
CO
feeling pretty good about skipping that white house signing ceremony eh @Big Fin ?

as much as i've been skeptical of this whole process of getting the GAOA passed, and happy that it did, i am surprised by this. i know i shouldn't be. but seems pretty ballsy, even for politics.

but alas, seemed a rather lucky and awful coincidence the deadline seemed to be after most people had cast their votes. not that anyone would've heard about it anyway
 

Mkamman

Active member
Joined
Apr 11, 2020
Messages
51
Sent an email to both my senators.
They were split on the vote. Not sure what I should say or ask.
 
Caribou Gear

Forum statistics

Threads
102,558
Messages
1,655,113
Members
32,036
Latest member
jackmathew
Top