While all of us are tightening our belts and spending less, at a time of record debt Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wants to dramatically increase the purchase of federal lands. Here’s another pretty picture prepared by the House Natural Resources Committee:
Just like the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Salazar is quite adept at double-speak. Even though the above chart says otherwise, Salazar’s testimony to House Natural Resources Chair Doc Hastings at a March 3 hearing on 2012 budget proposals was (last paragraph of page 3):
â€œThe 2012 budget reflects many difficult budget choices, cutting worthy programs and advancing efforts to shrink Federal spending…by eliminating and reducing lower priority programs…â€
Apparently this gentleman isn’t very good at reading charts, because as one can see he wants his “budget” for 2012 for the Land and Water Conservation Fund to be $900 million, up from $475 million in 2010 and more than doubling the 2008 budget.
Even the Fiscal Commission in a draft from 11/12/10 recommends reducing the amount for the LWCF (#37, page 14):
Reduce land acquisition under the Land and Water Conservation Fund. [snip] The LWCF is used almost exclusively for land acquisition for both federal and state land management agencies, while many argue that the federal government and states have difficulty managing the land they already own. That budget cannot, however, be used for maintenance. The federal government already owns 650 million acres that it has struggled to maintain. So while we continue to experience a maintenance backlog between $13.2 and $19.4 billion, Congress is seeking to acquire even more land [emphasis mine].By not funding this account until the maintenance backlog has been decreased less than $1 billion, the federal government will save just under $300 million each year.
Below is a chart of the breakdown of the Land and Water Conservation Fund budget request which provides for acquisition of federal lands, recreation and protection of natural treasures:
Chairman Hastings issued this statement:
â€œAmerica has a debt that is costing jobs and putting future generations at risk,â€ said Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings. â€œThere needs to be priorities and we must question if spending more money on a program is worth further indebting ourselves and our children to foreign countries. While many proposals are worthwhile objectives, the harsh reality is that our nation is broke and we have to take an objective look at what we can truly afford.â€
Yes, Salazar. If you would issue more drilling permits and put people back to work, our economy would thrive, capitalism would thrive and all would have more $$ in our pockets to spend and grow the economy.