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E-M:/ LWCF sign-on letter - DO NOT sign!



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Enviro-Mich message from Doug Cornett <drcornet@up.net>
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All:

I just found this message regarding the LWCF/CARA compromise bill.  From
all indications, this is BAD legislation and you should NOT sign on to the
letter being circulated by AHR.  If you have signed-on, you might want to
have AHR remove your name before the Dec. 23 deadline.  I'm awaiting more
info and will update E-M soon.

Happy Holidays,

Doug Cornett
Northwoods Wilderness Recovery


NOTE:  This bill will effect Michigan so is pertinent to E-M discussions.


To: CONS-WPST-COASTOCEAN-FORUM@LISTS.SIERRACLUB.ORG
Subject: CARA article
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1999 12:00:10 -0500
Message-ID: <00a301bf47ed$d4df79e0$3385accf@vwnewman>


This article was written for the Maryland Chapter newsletter.  Please
adapt the information for your own newsletter or other communication
networks.  Let me know if you want more information, such as breakdown of
dollar amounts per state, or factsheets.  The Administration has
repeatedly stated that no incentives for offshore oil will get signed
into law -- but there is a juggernaut of recreation, wildlife, and
state/local agencies who are just as determined to get this bill passed
no matter what. We have major, but MAJOR hurdles yet!!  =
VN
******************************************************************
Newly Hatched "Conservation and Reinvestment Act/CARA" -- Lands Legacy or
the Frankenstein of Conservation Legislation?

During the closing days of the 1999 Congressional Session, the House =
Resources Committee passed a long-awaited "compromise" bill for =
permanent and mandatory funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund
(LWCF) with royalties from offshore oil production on the Outer =
Continental Shelf (OCS).  House floor action and/or Senate markup is =
anticipated early in the next session.  Despite glowing reports fed to
the press by supporters,  this is no time for environmentalists to =
rejoice. A closer look reveals that despite numerous improvements this
"compromise" -- the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA), HR 701--
still might better be described as a Faustian Bargain sure to make =
Alaska coasts and wilderness the new national sacrifice area to our =
wanton energy consumption. 

Offshore oil development brings with it water pollution, air pollution,
and the potential for spills, as well as onshore roads, pipelines,
refineries and other infrastructure that pose a major threat to fish and
wildlife habitat and to the environmental quality for human residents.
The hostile and fragile Arctic environment takes centuries to repair this
kind of harm. Yet for the past few years the two titans of North Slope
oil production, BP Amoco and ARCO, have been seeking to expand into 10
million offshore acres of the Beaufort Sea, at the very doorstep of the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - their wish may be granted very soon
after Congress returns in early 2000.

INCENTIVES FOR LEASING AND PRODUCTION

Title I of the new CARA still contains language that spells danger for
marine and coastal habitat and living resources.  Specifically, CARA
provides major incentives for oil development in sensitive frontier =
areas off Alaska.  It appears that the allocation scheme excludes leased
tracts within the moratorium areas on which there was no production as of
1/1/99 from the calculation of which states get money and how much they
get, a helpful step forward.  

However, since Alaska (outside of Bristol Bay) is not subject to the
moratorium, the state will have a major incentive to accept new leasing,
given that 50% of its allocation will be based on leasing.  The direct
pass-through to local governments of 50% of a state's allocable share is
particularly damaging.  The proximity-based incentives remain and will
provide a major incentive for local governments in Alaska AND OTHER
PRODUCING STATES to accept more =
leasing and development.

"Qualified OCS revenues" appears to exclude revenues from all tracts =
(leased and unleased) within the moratorium areas on which there is no
production as of 1/1/99, which is a helpful clarification.  However, 
under the definition, revenues from leasing and production in Alaska =
outside of Bristol Bay would apparently be used to fund all titles of the
bill. This creates a major incentive for all the many beneficiaries of
the bill, including Maryland's public lands and wildlife programs,  to
support accelerated leasing and development in Alaska in order to provide
revenues for the activities funded by the bill.

MASSIVE SLUSH FUNDS FOR OIL STATES

Title I provides for "coastal impact assistance" through revenue- sharing
with OCS states.  While the bill authorizes good uses of the money, there
is a catchall use that would allow funds to be spent on =
construction projects that could further harm coastal areas and with no
restriction on the amount. By allowing open-ended funds from offshore oil
royalties for projects that involve dredging, filling wetlands, and
coastal armoring,  the $1 billion pot of money diverts 27% of the
nation's offshore oil revenues from our national treasury to a massive,
unrestricted and potentially destructive pork barrel for oil states
(several hundred million annually to Louisiana). And by allotting a
relatively minor portion of this money to be distributed to other coastal
states including Maryland,  Mr. Young has purchased their acquiescence.
The effect is to invite major environmental harm to coastal and marine
ecosystems and the fisheries they support, especially in the Gulf of
Mexico and Alaska.  Shared revenues should instead be clearly earmarked
for coastal conservation, most especially the restoration of Louisiana's
ravaged coastal wetlands.

Title II  provides permanent mandatory funding for  LWCF until 2015, =
three years after the Presidential deferral of new lease sales ends.   =
Approval of expenditures for individual projects still remains with =
Congressional appropriators.  Of course,  Congress could have voted full
appropriations for FY2000 under current law, but they did not and have
not for over a decade.   Instead, the Alaska and Louisiana delegations
have used LWCF to mask a wholly different agenda.

Although Title III  provides much needed state wildlife money it fails to
detail the kind of planning that was so carefully worked out  by =
state wildlife and game agencies, nor does it make providing for =
non-game needs a priority. 

To top it all off, the oil companies, who have habitually avoided making
their full royalty payments and have been granted various royalty
deferrals and tax breaks by Congress, would not have to pay one
additional cent.

Regrettably Maryland's Department of Natural Resources, =
wildlife-affiliated businesses, and even some conservation groups, have
been so eager to assure that LWCF is permanently funded and that their
programs receive some secure new monies that they have taken the bait and
joined forces in a full-scale coalition campaign known as "Teaming with
Wildlife" (TWW) that omits mention of these inconvenient facts. The
prevailing philosophy seems to be that if there is money to be had, just
take it and don't ask where it came from.  TWW members and allies (many
of whom are on public payroll) have been devoting significant resources
and time to organizing and lobbying for CARA.   Did you even know that
they are speaking for you?

A flawed outcome with far-reaching adverse consequences for our nation's
coasts, Alaska's wilderness, and the Federal Treasury can only be avoided
by vigorous action on the House floor, in the Senate, and by President
Clinton to eliminate the "poison pills" still tucked so skillfully into
HR 701.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

**** write or call our State Congressional Delegation and the =
President and urge them to see to it to that LWCF AND WILDLIFE FUNDING BE
DONE RIGHT OR NOT AT ALL!  Tell them that incentives for drilling and
slush funds for infrastructure must be deleted from any land =
conservation legislation that relies on offshore oil revenues.

TO VIEW THE FULL TEXT OF CARA, HR 701: =
http://www.house.gov/resources/ocs

For side-by-side comparision of LWCF bills currently in Congress: =
http://www.defenders.org/inter14.html

For more information and factsheets on HR 701 and the Congressional =
moratorium on offshore leasing:  Vivian Newman,  tel. 410-442-5639; =
email: newviv@erols.com)

--------- End forwarded message ----------





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