September 30, 2015

VETERANS CRITICAL OF CONGRESS FOR ALLOWING EXPIRATION OF LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION FUND; CALL FOR ACTION

WASHINGTON, DC – A top veterans advocacy group, the Vet Voice Foundation, is criticizing Congress for its failure to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  Because the Fund expires at midnight, it will now cease to help protect America’s natural wonders and monuments, after a fifty year run, because of inaction in Congress. Specifically, the Vet Voice Foundation is urging Utah Congressman Rob Bishop to drop his opposition to protecting the lands and parks our veterans enjoy.  On Friday, September 25, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) pledged to block bipartisan efforts to reauthorize of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, putting at risk dozens of projects to protect Civil War battlefields and national parks from commercial development. 

Generations of veterans have depended on our public lands, upon returning home from war, as a place to take time to heal from wounds, both physical and mental,” said Major General (Ret.) Paul D Eaton, managing director of the Vet Voice Foundation.  “We call it ‘Walking off the War’.   The inaction from Congress, and opposition from Congressman Bishop, is now jeopardizing this and future generations of heroes the opportunity to get the peace and solace they need.  We are disappointed." 

Created by Congress in 1965, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was a bipartisan commitment to use offshore drilling royalties to safeguard natural areas, water resources and our cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans.  

The fund uses revenues from the depletion of one natural resource – offshore oil and gas – to support the conservation of another precious resource – our land and water.  The program does not rely on taxpayer dollars.  Every year, $900 million in royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and gas on the Outer Continental Shelf are put into this fund.  The money is intended to create and to protect and to maintain national parks, national forests, and national wild life refuges from development, and to provide matching grants for state and local parks and recreation projects. 

Eaton, however, remained hopeful that those in Congress would realize the mistake they have made, and correct it. 

“It is inevitable that these Representatives and Senators will feel pressure from their constituents back home, particularly from those who support our men and women in uniform.  It is our sincerest hope that those in Congress will recognize the serious mistake they’ve made, and move swiftly to correct it,” said Eaton. 

Founded in 2009, the mission of Vet Voice Foundation is to mobilize veterans to become leaders in our nation's democracy through participation in the civic and democratic process. VVF seeks to harness the energy and drive of the dedicated men and women who have fought for their country, and put it to work at home and in their communities on the important issues they face, such as health care, jobs, the environment, and housing.

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