“To stop funding the oldest and most successful conservation fund in our country since 1964 is just beyond us.” – Howard Penn, Executive Director of the Planning and Conservation League
The Trump administration’s apathetic attitude toward the environment is trickling down to Congress. The Land and Water Conservation Fund, a vital conservation program signed into place by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, will expire Sept. 30 if lawmakers don’t take action.
“This is the first time in the history of this fund that it is being threatened like this,” Howard Penn, philanthropist and executive director of the Planning and Conservation League, told host Chip Franklin. “There was some blips in previous years with the timing of getting it refunded, but this is where they are holding the funding up for this to potentially leverage other things, and you can just imagine what the leverage is being used for — things like ‘the wall.’”
According to Penn, the fund, which he said is the oldest and most successful of its kind in the nation and is primarily financed by federal offshore drilling contracts, allocates somewhere around $900 million per year across all 50 states and additional U.S. territories for environmental purposes. He estimates in the lifetime of the fund upward of $2.5 billion has been distributed to the state of California alone.
“If we don’t get that money, what happens is a lot of the conservation projects, or the restoration projects, or new facilities in these state parks, or county parks or city parks won’t happen,” he explained. “The state doesn’t have enough money in its coffers to backfill that so that those projects can continue forward.”
Right now, a massive coalition comprised of 600-plus organization is fighting on behalf of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Penn said despite the bipartisan group’s effort, there is still a number of Republican congresspersons that need to swayed.
Although the fund is set to expire in just ten days from now, Congress has until the end of the year to vote to reinstate funding for 2019. For those interested in joining the fight, Penn said the most impactful move a person can take is reaching out to their congressperson!
Hear Penn speak more extensively on the topic below!