by E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow Greg Walcher
As Appearing in the Daily Sentinel

When your car has a flat tire, a dead battery and needs an oil change, you have two choices. Take care of these tiresome but routine tasks, or buy a new car. Few of us can afford the latter option, and even if we did, new cars need maintenance, too. Otherwise we would just have a junkyard filled with inoperable cars. That truth applies to all machines, but also to roads, bridges, campgrounds, reservoirs, and other property.

During my tenure at the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, I noticed a recurring conference for state parks officials, so I decided to go check it out. It was the annual meeting of NASORLO, the National Association of State Outdoor Recreation Liaison Officers. That is, state officials whose job includes administering a federal program called the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The four-day conference’s main purpose was (and is every year) to ensure that all the states sing from the same hymnal in lobbying Congress and the Interior Department for shares of the money.

Created in 1965, LWCF was designed to use revenue from the depletion of one natural resource (offshore oil and gas) to support the conservation of another (land and water). Royalties paid by oil and gas companies producing from the Outer Continental Shelf (this year $900 million) go into the fund, which was dedicated to maintaining and preserving national parks, rivers and lakes, national forests, and wildlife refuges, as well as matching grants for state and local park and recreation projects.