From our friend and partner Pat Byington, Director of the Eastern Forest Partnership:
We literally have 32 hours to make a difference. Keep on making calls, sending emails and encouraging all of our friends to do so.
Yesterday afternoon, the Senate released a summary draft of their Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act (see PDF at top of post), which includes permanent and mandatory funding for LWCF, including $900 million for each of the next 5 years. This is a huge victory for us and demonstrates the strong, bipartisan support that LWCF continues to receive in the Senate and throughout the nation.
The LWCF full funding language in this bill continues to be derived from OCS revenues with a $5 billion budgetary offset from an increase to the Oil Spill Trust Fund. Senate budget rules prohibit increased funding levels above $5 billion during a 10 year window, and any spending which violates that rule would be subject to a budget point of order requiring 60 votes and endangering LWCF’s dedicated funding in this package.
With that in mind, Senate staff have carefully crafted language to fund LWCF at the highest possible levels allowed by Senate rules. It gives LWCF its best – and only – opportunity for success on the Senate floor.
Much like the House language fully funding LWCF, the Administration and Congress will continue to make determinations each year regarding allocations to the stateside and federal programs in the Senate bill. The appropriations committees will also continue to have discretion over the annual project priority lists submitted by the Administration.
The details of the LWCF provisions are as follows:
• $900 million is dedicated to LWCF, without further appropriation, for each of fiscal years 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.
• In FY 2016, $500 million will be dedicated to LWCF, and the appropriations committees can increase that funding level should they decide to.
• All funding for LWCF in fiscal years 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 would be subject to appropriations without dedicated funding.
• Beginning in FY 2021, and each year thereafter, $500 million will be dedicated to LWCF, and the appropriations committees can increase that funding level should they decide to. Again, this limitation is due to the budget rules of the Senate.
This is a very carefully crafted provision designed to give LWCF the best possible chance for success on the Senate floor. We must support Majority Leader Reid, Senator Bingaman and Senator Baucus and our other LWCF champions who have worked diligently to include full and dedicated funding in their oil spill legislation.
Our end goal is to pass this strong LWCF provision on the Senate side in order to be part of a bill conference with the House CLEAR Act to give us the best possible chance for full and dedicated funding of LWCF in this Congress.
We need ALL possible outreach going into Senate offices with the following messages:
• Support the Land and Water Conservation Fund provisions in the Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act
• Support passage of the Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act
Please contact all members and urge them to support LWCF in the Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act.
We also must continue to outreach to all House members in support of the CLEAR Act, which is scheduled to go to the Rules Committee tonight with debate on the package beginning tomorrow. Votes are expected on Friday, and we need to speak with all offices to carry these messages:
• Support the Land and Water Conservation Fund provisions in the CLEAR Act
• Support passage of the CLEAR Act
• Oppose any weakening amendments
• Oppose any motion to recommit the bill (a motion to recommit will take the bill off the floor and send the bill back to committee for further review)
Senator Lamar Alexander: 202-224-4944
Senator Bob Corker: 202-224-3344
Marsha Blackburn (District 7): 202-225-2811
Steve Cohen (District 9): 202-225-3265
Jim Cooper (District 5): 202-225-4311
Lincoln Davis (District 4): 202-225-6831
John J. Duncan Jr. (District 2): 202-225-5435
Bart Gordon (District 6): 202-225-4231
Phil Roe (District 1): 202-225-6356
John Tanner (District 8): 202-225-4714
Zach Wamp (District 3): 202-225-3271