President Trump recently signed into law the largest public lands bill to have been considered by Congress within the last 10 years. This bill will designate a total of 1.3 million acres of land to be preserved as wilderness. The bill also includes provision for the growth of several national parks and the creation of five new national monuments. In addition, this bill will permanently reauthorize the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has been expired since last fall.
I applaud President Trump for making the choice to sign this bill and take steps towards protecting the environment for our nation. The five national monuments being designated thanks to this legislation are the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home in Mississippi, the Mill Springs and Camp Nelson national monuments in Kentucky, the former Saint Francis Dam site in Southern California and the Jurassic National Monument in Utah.
There are many positive results of this bill and one of the most significant is that it will reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has supported more than 42,000 state and local projects throughout the United States since 1964. The funding comes almost entirely from revenue generated by offshore natural gas and oil development projects, which many people do not realize. Yes, royalties from the natural gas and oil industry fund our parks, monuments and recreation throughout the nation. This positive offshore energy benefit is widely unknown among the public and should be commended. Homegrown offshore energy development will need to continue in order for us to receive those funds.
President Trump’s unqualified support for this bill indicates his desire to protect our nation’s environment. The bill includes over 100 land conservation bills that have been combined to preserve 350 miles of river and to designate almost 700,000 acres of land to be used solely for recreation and conservation purposes. Such planned preservation will help to maintain our nation’s natural beauty for years to come. As the largest public lands bill considered by Congress in a decade, this bill may be one of the most important and memorable during President Trump’s time in office.
This action taken by President Trump will help to bring even more benefits from increasing domestic energy production here in the U.S. to the American people. The natural gas and oil industry supports millions of jobs across the country and many jobs in offshore energy exploration and production specifically pay over $100,000 per year, which is significantly higher than national average. This permanent authorization will allow the industry to fund important programs across the nation, from wildlife habitat protection to creation of new national parks. I commend the Congress and the Administration for signing into law this important bill that will benefit our nation for generations to come.
Lauren Whritenour is the president of the Tallahassee Republican Women's Club Federation.