President Trump signed a bill that will devote nearly $3 billion annually to conservation projects.
Called the Great American Outdoors Act, Donald Trump has signed a historic law to pump billions of dollars into long-neglected repairs and upgrades at America’s national parks. It will provide up to $9.5 billion over the next five years for park maintenance and guarantee $900 million/year for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).The money would come from royalties on oil, gas, coal and renewable energy that is already being paid to the federal treasury. The measure was overwhelmingly approved by Congress. Ivanka Trump, the Republican president’s daughter and adviser, also supported the legislation.
It is the most significant new federal conservation law in 40 years, since President Jimmy Carter doubled the size of the national park system by establishing 157 million acres of new parks, wildlife refuges, scenic rivers and other wilderness areas in Alaska during his final weeks in office in 1980. “There hasn’t been anything like this since Teddy Roosevelt, I suspect,” Trump said during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.
According to Mercury News, several of the chief sponsors of the bill, including Cory Gardner of Colorado, Steve Daines of Montana, Martha McSally of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine, are Republican senators in close re-election races. The White House and GOP leaders, who previously have opposed increasing the funding, saw the measure as a major accomplishment that could help Republicans win those races. Gardner and Daines personally urged Trump to embrace it, and were featured at the signing ceremony Tuesday. Supporters say the legislation will create at least 100,000 jobs, while restoring national parks and repairing trails and forest systems.
“The Great American Outdoors Act is a truly historic, bipartisan conservation accomplishment that will protect wildlife habitat, expand recreational opportunities, restore public lands and waters, and create good jobs,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.
Despite years of saying climate change is not a real thing and attempting to slash spending for the Land and Water Conservation Fund in his budget proposals, Donald Trump may seem to be turning back on his beliefs, however, election year pressures are at the center of the unusual breakthrough. His Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, along with his daughter, Ivanka Trump and some Republicans, urged passage of the bill and held events to promote it.
At the signing ceremony Tuesday, however, Trump invited only Republicans.