After losing a close effort at the end of last year, U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, both Montana Democrats, have again offered a bill to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The program draws money from offshore oil and gas royalties for projects benefiting fish, wildlife and recreation throughout the nation. In Montana, LCWF money has helped pay for Missoula’s Caras Park, the Montana Legacy Project and fishing access sites.

“It was reintroduced about an hour ago,” Baucus spokeswoman Kathy Weber said on Thursday afternoon.

Feb. 14 marked the 50th anniversary of President John Kennedy sending the original LCWF bill to Congress in 1963, she said.

The new bill would send $900 million a year into the fund from the oil and gas royalties, not general-fund tax dollars. It would make that annual funding a permanent decision, so it wouldn’t have to be reauthorized.

“This would provide more permanence and stability to work on projects and do good conservation on the ground,” said the Wilderness Society conservation funding director Alan Rowsome from Washington, D.C. “That saves dollars in the long run, as opposed to having them constantly in limbo. It helps states like Montana to plan out good conservation opportunities.”

Last year, a similar bill seeking $700 million in a two-year transportation funding bill was widely supported in the Senate, but stripped out in the House of Representatives.

Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina is also lead sponsor of the bill. Rowsome said the bipartisan support might signal a different style of action for Congress this year.

“For most of the last Congress, the order of the day was only big bills moving and finding opportunities where you could within that realm,” Rowsome said. “That could be the way of doing business again in this Congress, but many (committee) chairmen want to have more robust conversations and to move more legislation this time. They’re talking about a goal of operating in the regular order as often as possible.”

Reporter Rob Chaney can be reached at 523-5382 or at rchaney@missoulian.com.

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(2) comments

Desperado

These two losers would rather spend tax dollars on more parks than pay down the debt or yearly deficit. We can't afford to pay for the maintenance on the parks we now have and they are considering closing several them because we can't afford them, and these two clowns want to use oil revenue to create more ongoing debt. How stupid do you have to be to get elected as a Senator in Montana? We are borrowing and printing money now to pay for medicare and social security. Why not use the tax dollars to firm up those two programs first? No leadership whatsoever in the Democrat party. Just spend. Nothing but a bunch of gimme pigs.

part of the Mob

Will their water conservation efforts lower my taxes, which both senators told the country, would not be raised? I recall Baucus and Tester preaching their tax plans would not touch folks making $250,000 or less. What a bunch of pricks. Wife and I now have between $4000 and $5000 a year less cash thanks to them. Hope you both get sick and need Obamacare to get cured. Stinking tards. You both suck!!! And you are both flat out liars!!! Eat sh@t and die.

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