President Trump signed a major conservation bill into law today. The Great American Outdoor Act provides $900 million annually in oil and gas revenues to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The law also conserves land for trails and parks, plus billions of dollars over the next five years for national parks’ maintenance backlogs.
Previously, President Trump wanted to cut the funding by almost 97% to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This reversal in his decision is credited to his campaign efforts, as well as the Senate Republicans’ campaigns. Reports that Senate Republicans are splitting from Trump as they try to hold onto the upper chambers majority surfaced last month, and President Trump has noticeably changed his position on a number of issues as he focuses on November 3rd. According to Senate Republicans, The Great American Outdoors Act is the “single largest investment in our national parks and public lands IN HISTORY!”
Speaking from the White House today, President Trump said this “landmark legislation will preserve America’s majestic wonder,” and is a very big deal from an environmental standpoint. Trump said there hasn’t been legislation like this since fellow Republican President Teddy Roosevelt.
In his remarks, Trump said that for more than fifty years, Congress has failed to “adequately fund” land and water conservation. There have been increasing backlogs for public lands because of this lack of funding. Roads, buildings, and trails need repair. Secretary David Bernhardt praised the bill’s passage, tweeting, “The Great American Outdoors Act will ensure our national parks & public lands can be enjoyed for generations to come. This would have NEVER been possible without @realDonaldTrump’s leadership! #GAOA.” President Trump thanked Senator Cory Gardner and Senator Steve Daines, from Colorado and Montana, respectively. Trump said they would “call me all the time,” and wanted to “get it done.”
In a statement from the White House, they credited the National Parks for providing $41 billion to the American economy in 2019. The maintenance backlogs, because they have gone so long without proper funding, are up to $20 billion nationwide, and many parks have been forced to close.
Why this matters: If you are a Republican and find yourself in a conversation with an environmentalist, you know the direction they will often take. President Trump’s law is extremely pro-environment, but will most likely be largely overlooked when he is attacked by the left. It doesn’t help their argument that he is anti-environment if they acknowledge the enormity of this law. Often, both sides of the aisle make sweeping generalizations about the other party. For Republicans, who are constantly fighting against the anti-environment narrative, this is a historic law that will help the right redirect the partisan attacks by pointing to facts rather than the other side’s opinions.
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