September 21, 2000
"We have a unique and profoundly important effort to give people at the grass-roots level in America a permanent source of funding to protect our natural resources."
President Bill Clinton
September 21, 2000
Today, at the White House, President Clinton called on Congress to act now on legislation to ensure permanent conservation funding to protect critical lands across America. Joined by state and local officials and representatives of recreation and conservation organizations, the President urged the Senate to pass the historic bipartisan Conservation and Reinvestment Act, which would provide guaranteed funding to support federal protection of natural treasures and help states and communities protect urban parks, farmland, forests, battlefields, coastland, and other green spaces. He also called on Congress to fully fund his FY 2001 land conservation budget, and vowed to veto budget bills which contain anti-environmental riders.
PROTECTING AMERICA'S CRITICAL LANDS. Over the past seven years, President Clinton has secured stronger protection for tens of millions of acres of precious land across America: protecting Yellowstone National Park from mining, forging a historic agreement to protect ancient California redwoods, permanently protecting the Baca Ranch in New Mexico, and restoring the Florida Everglades. Last year, the President secured $652 million – a 42 percent increase – to support federal, state, and local efforts to protect America's land and coastal resources in FY 2000. So far, Congress has approved less than half of the President's request for these priorities in FY 2001. Today, the President called upon Congress to fully fund his FY 2001 land conservation budget.
CALLING FOR PERMANENT CONSERVATION FUNDING. To ensure strong conservation efforts in the years ahead, the President has called for the creation of a permanent endowment to protect America's critical lands. His FY 2001 budget proposes a new category to ensure permanent funding of at least $1.4 billion per year, with at least half going to support state and local conservation efforts. Permanent funding would ensure that the federal government, states, and local communities have a consistent and reliable funding source to protect open spaces, farmland, forests, ocean and coastal resources, and urban and suburban parks. It would mean that citizens could enjoy more open spaces, and that future generations of Americans can appreciate the incomparable natural treasures that are among this nation's greatest riches.
ACHIEVING BROAD BIPARTISAN SUPPORT. The call for permanent conservation funding has received broad bipartisan support this year. The Conservation and Reinvestment Act passed the House with more than 300 votes, and the Senate Energy Committee reported a bipartisan bill that close to two-thirds of the Senate has said must be considered this year. In a demonstration of the broad national support this legislation enjoys, the President was joined at the White House by education, municipal, sports, conservation, outdoor recreation and wildlife protection leaders as he called on the Senate to pass this important legislation before Congress adjourns.
FIGHTING ANTI-ENVIRONMENTAL RIDERS. Bills now before Congress contain riders that aim to block cleanup of contaminated sediments at Superfund sites, undermine efforts to improve air quality, weaken drinking water protections, prevent hard-rock mining reforms on public lands, promote overcutting of timber on national forests, block common-sense efforts to improve energy conservation and combat climate change, and undermine efforts to protect endangered species. The President called on Congress to send him budget bills without anti-environmental riders, and threatened to veto bills containing these riders, if necessary.