Yeti

Interior misses Great American Outdoors Act deadline

LuketheDog

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"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."

Dunno, I read to the end, I looked outside and don't see any sky falling yet...
 

JLS

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"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."

Dunno, I read to the end, I looked outside and don't see any sky falling yet...
Sometimes timing is everything, and getting different funding sources to line up at the right time is key. I've seen more than one acquisition project end up DRT because of quirky life circumstances that derailed the entire thing, simply because of delays.
 

Cheesehead

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Wisconsin vote counters are here to help out!
 

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mottlet

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For the record, the deferred maintenance list from DOI was no real prize. Just names of parks and refuges placed into a handful of vague categories, like "demolition" or "structures" with a number. No real specificity.

Almost like it was phoned in or something...
 

mottlet

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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
It's trade press and part of the daily routine for anybody working on these issues inside the beltway, and a bunch of folks out of it.
 

slatebuilder

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Surely the new administration will appoint adequate leadership at interior.
 

Big Fin

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I hope what I heard today is not true about DOI coming up with new LWCF rules that pretty much nullify the acquisition part of LWCF/GAOA. If I can confirm, I'll post more.

Given it would be bad news, it does follow the DC news cycle of putting out negative or controversial decisions on Friday afternoon.
 

mottlet

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I hope what I heard today is not true about DOI coming up with new LWCF rules that pretty much nullify the acquisition part of LWCF/GAOA. If I can confirm, I'll post more.

Given it would be bad news, it does follow the DC news cycle of putting out negative or controversial decisions on Friday afternoon.
Afraid so Randy. Hope all you Montanans are lighting up the phone lines for the newly re-elected junior senator that got so much mileage out of how he convinced this administration to support LWCF. Time for Mr. Daines to walk the talk he was so fond of during the campaign.


PUBLIC LANDS​

Bernhardt order gives states veto authority over LWCF​

Emma Dumain and Jennifer Yachnin, E&E News reportersPublished: Friday, November 13, 2020
David Bernhardt. Photo credit: Francis Chung/E&E News

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is moving to change how Great American Outdoors Act money is spent. Francis Chung/E&E News

The Interior Department is seeking to make sweeping changes to how Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars can be spent in what critics say is tantamount to a rewrite of the Great American Outdoors Act.

It's the latest chapter in the ongoing saga over the administration's rocky implementation of its signature conservation law enacted in August.

A new order from Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, published this afternoon, would, among other things, essentially give state and local jurisdictions veto power over how communities spend and match grants through the LWCF, which funds access to recreation in states and federal land acquisitions.

"A written expression of support by both the affected Governor and local county or county government-equivalent (e.g. parish, borough) is required for the acquisition of land, water, or an interest in land or water under the Federal LWCF program," the order reads.

This directive would particularly benefit Western leaders who feel the federal government owns too much land in their states, and there had been rumors over the past few weeks that such a "gift" to Western critics of the Great American Outdoors Act would be coming down the pike.


The new mandate echoes an amendment put forth by Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee when the Senate debated the Great American Outdoors Act over the summer, which called for state legislatures to approve any new land acquisitions in their respective states, "so that land acquisition would be something Washington does with the states rather than to the states."

Lee's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It is not clear whether there was coordination between the senator and the Interior Department in drafting the order.

The order also instructs agencies housed by Interior to make all "LWCF expenditures for acquisition of interests in land and water" consistent with the "account, program, and project allocations established by the President."

This would be an especially troubling development for conservation advocates who noted Interior's new list of LWCF projects to be prioritized in fiscal 2021 ran afoul of statute and undermined a long-standing commitment to protect public lands overseen by the Bureau of Land Management.

It would also likely further inflame congressional appropriators who threatened earlier this week to take over the allocation of LWCF dollars if the administration would not meet deadlines to submit lists that complied with the law (E&E News PM, Nov. 10).

The Great American Outdoors Act permanently and fully funded the LWCF at $900 million annually, plus created a trust fund to drive down a $20 billion backlog of deferred maintenance projects at national parks and on public lands.

In the order today, Bernhardt explained that "the enactment of the Great American Outdoors Act ... amendments to the LWCF necessitate a review of the State Program Manual to make certain that States have the maximum flexibility to receive financial assistance, and to exercise discretion in their recreational projects under the State Program."

Tom Cors, director of government relations for lands at the Nature Conservancy, strongly disagreed.

"[The] LWCF has worked well for decades. The only people who seem to want to change it are a few people in the Department of the Interior, but they don't have the authority to rewrite the laws," Cors said in a statement to E&E News.

"They're trying, but Congress made it clear this week that they see what's going on here too, and they're not going to stand for it," he said.

Twitter: @Emma_DumainEmail: [email protected]
 

Big Fin

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Afraid so Randy. Hope all you Montanans are lighting up the phone lines for the newly re-elected junior senator that got so much mileage out of how he convinced this administration to support LWCF. Time for Mr. Daines to walk the talk he was so fond of during the campaign.
That is pretty much what I had heard this morning from someone in DC who would know.

What a pile of bullshit. I've come to the conclusion that the fix has been in on this entire charade since the start. Now, we are finding out what "fix" they had in mind the entire time.
 

golfer

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That is pretty much what I had heard this morning from someone in DC who would know.

What a pile of bullshit. I've come to the conclusion that the fix has been in on this entire charade since the start. Now, we are finding out what "fix" they had in mind the entire time.
Will this be able to hopefully be undone by the incoming administration?
 

Big Fin

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I do believe it can be changed, as it appears to Administrative Rule. But, it will likely be a lower priority compared to the other big problems currently facing the country. And, by planting the stake so far over on the fringe, moving that stake to the middle causes the "stake puller" to look unreasonable.

Reality is, public lands are one of the big pieces of political trade bait among the ideological anti-public landers, even though it is very popular with the American public. The US Senate is where most of the problem exists and they are happy to leverage their positions to repay the political debts owed to those funders who share the anti-public land sentiment.
 

Sytes

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If it wasn't for Randy's direct comments, I would wonder if this is merely some political play... Take for instance, EENews quoted The Trust For Public Lands in their article however, as I researched the first time and now again to see if anything new has raised to the surface, Zilch from TPL's website.
In fact, the most recent news via search of their site for GAOA, they're still headlining their praise for the setting.
Once-in-a-Generation Legislation for Public Lands Becomes Law

Full and Permanent Funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Will Dramatically Expand Needed Access to Parks and Public Lands​


 

neffa3

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The requirement for a "written expression of support" could get interesting in Montana, where departing Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock had to win a state Supreme Court decision to overrule his Republican-dominated State Land Board to preserve his authority to buy conservation easements for wildlife habitat. The Republican-dominated Legislature passed a law attempting to strip the governor of that power, but Bullock vetoed it.

Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte supported the Great American Outdoors Act when it passed Congress. He is now the governor-elect of Montana, where he may have the Interior order’s authority to block future federal LWCF acquisitions.


More funding for the rest of us, sorry MT.
 

wyoelkfan15

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"In the order today, Bernhardt explained that "the enactment of the Great American Outdoors Act ... amendments to the LWCF necessitate a review of the State Program Manual to make certain that States have the maximum flexibility to receive financial assistance, and to exercise discretion in their recreational projects under the State Program."

More like flexibility to spend those funds on projects completely unrelated to LWCF projects
 
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