DENVER – Western Energy Alliance celebrates one year of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), signed into law by President Trump on August 4, 2020. Royalties from oil and natural gas development on public lands and waters overwhelmingly fund up to $2.8 billion annually for conservation and public lands infrastructure, providing the American taxpayer a significant return on domestic energy production.
“Despite the Interior Department taking all the credit on the one-year anniversary of GAOA, oil and natural gas leasing and development on public lands provides the conservation investment almost single-handedly,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of Western Energy Alliance. “We’re proud to produce environmentally responsible oil and natural gas on multiple-use public lands because it provides affordable, sustainable energy for Americans. We’re also proud that the investment in conservation mandated by GAOA is only possible because oil and natural gas companies provide the funding for projects in national parks and other public lands. For example, our revenues fund $154 million in projects at the Blue Ridge Parkway, $126 million at Yellowstone, and $88 million at Yosemite.”
“Unfortunately, the Biden Administration is risking billions in future conservation. By implementing a halt on new oil and natural gas leases and putting policies in place to eventually achieve the goal of ‘no oil on federal lands,’ this administration is threatening national parks and conservation of public lands. Without the $9 billion in royalties from the federal oil and natural gas program, the Great American Outdoors Act would become another unfunded government mandate. If that happens, the significant bipartisan achievement of last year will be tossed aside as a casualty of the administration’s anti-oil and natural gas policies,” concluded Sgamma.
The Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law on August 4, 2020, after receiving strong bipartisan support and passage through Congress last summer. The law established a new National Park and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund and authorized up to $1.9 billion annually to address the $20 billion maintenance backlog in national parks and other public lands. The Legacy Restoration Fund is funded by energy development on public lands managed by the Department of the Interior. The $4.2 billion in royalties from the federal onshore oil and natural gas program last year make up the vast majority of those conservation funds. The only other significant contributor is coal, which produced $514 million in federal royalties last year.
The law also fully funds the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually for the first time in the program’s 50-year history. LWCF supports local conservation, wetland, and recreation projects across the country and is funded entirely by offshore oil and natural gas production.
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