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Conservation Royalites

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, I see my colleague from Tennessee is again on the Senate floor, and it is my pleasure this afternoon to spend a few minutes with him marking the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a fund that has been extraordinarily helpful and useful to Governors, mayors, local elected officials, and advocates for conservation and for preservation for these 40 years.

When it was passed and signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, it was a very farsighted and bold legislation that acknowledged that one of the great characteristics that separates America from the rest of the world, particularly the old world represented by the European countries. The essence of America, having such great expanses and great outdoors, separates it from an old world that was relatively small geographically and somewhat cramped. The United States of America has many special characteristics about it, but the one that really stands out that people of all political persuasions and from all geographic areas really appreciate and grasp is the value of the vastness of our land and the great open spaces. Our mighty rivers, our deep canyons, our extraordinary lush forests and green spaces, our breathtakingly beautiful deserts are all the things that make this country what it is.

Although the country was created this way and a great gift to all of us from the Creator, it is not going to stay this way unless we take some affirmative actions to preserve what we can, to give our people and our population places to grow, expand, earn livings, and create jobs. We have an obligation, as stewards, as the Senator said earlier, not just to our constituents but actually we have a moral obligation to the Creator who created this beauty to be good stewards of the land and the gift that has been given.

Looking at the 40th anniversary of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, while we have done a good job, while we have made a fine effort, while we can point to many success stories of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, I stand today on the 40th anniversary with the Senator from Tennessee to say that we must do better. There are terrible gaps in funding that are leaving beautiful States such as Tennessee and magnificent States such as Louisiana and other States throughout our Nation desperate for Federal help to finish the good work that was started late in the last century.

President Roosevelt, who is even credited today with being such a great visionary conservationist, was an advocate of the preservation of special places in America. That is what we come today to talk about, how important it is to recommit ourselves, on this 40th anniversary, to setting aside the proper amount of money, not more than we need but an adequate amount of money to help our Governors and our mayors and support a new effort for wildlife preservation and support our coastal areas in light of the original vision of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

So the Senator from Tennessee and I have introduced the Americans Outdoors Act of 2004. I commend the chairman, PETE DOMENICI from New Mexico, who, in this very challenging year, has already allowed us a hearing on this bill. We look forward to working with the members of the Energy Committee, which has jurisdiction, of course, and the Department of Interior as we move this great legislation through seeking a more reliable source of funding.

We propose in our legislation to basically establish the same conservation royalty that the Federal Government now gives for onshore production of oil and natural gas. This bill will create a conservation royalty for offshore production of oil and natural gas and have it distributed in a way that complements and fulfills the promise of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It is like saying the great wealth of this resource, of oil and natural gas, should be invested, as the Senator said, in the Federal Treasury to help economic development and building highways and the space program and should support our military.

A large percentage of these tax dollars should go for general uses, but a small percentage, 25 percent of these billions of dollars that are generated, should really go to a conservation royalty to acknowledge the creation that we have inherited, to acknowledge the great land and water that we have inherited, and to say on this day we believe it is wrong to take and never to give back. We believe it is our political and moral responsibility to be good stewards of the wealth that is generated and to turn back a portion of that money for conservation. It is our responsibility to give to our grandchildren and great grandchildren the great gift and the great land that was given to us by our forefathers and our Presidents, both Republican and Democrat, who have argued and established this great fund.

So it is my hope, with the Senator from Tennessee, that we will be joined by other Senate leaders as we pursue this effort to find a reliable stream of revenue to create a conservation royalty that will fully fund the State side of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a robust coastal program for the States in our Nation, and a wildlife restoration fund, as well as the urban parks component of the State side of the bill.

I think we should explore and try to look for opportunities to find a reliable stream of money for the Federal side as we continue to build and expand on public lands in the United States.

Let me say there is no one in this Senate who understands the great value of private property more than do I and the Senator from Tennessee. I go all over the world doing a lot of work on economic development and lifting people out of poverty. I have been probably to more orphanages and homes for poor children than most. Many Senators do that great work. I am well aware that, in order for countries to create wealth, owning private property and building equity in a home or getting a mortgage for a farm is essential. That is the founding essence of America. This bill we intend to reinvigorate today is not a threat to private property. It complements the great commitment we have to private property, by saying that some lands, a small portion of lands, should be in public hands. The majority should be in private hands. It is an extraordinary partnership that gives value to both.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund envisions that strong partnership making all of our land more valuable, cleaner, more user friendly, open and beautiful for us to give to future generations.

I see the Senator from Tennessee, who may want to add a few additional words. But I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the RECORD the distribution of money to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It is not blown up, but I think the cameras at least can zoom in to see how volatile the funding has been, up and down, up and down, since 1965. Our bill attempts to equal this out by creating a conservation royalty so we can rely on these dollars and we can make good plans, spend taxpayer money well and wisely, creating beautiful bike paths and trails, helping to make more robust our park systems and our public lands for the benefit of our grandchildren in a way that complements the private sector, private property, and the economic development efforts that will continue to be underway for generations to come in this great Nation.

I also ask unanimous consent to have printed in the RECORD a news release that was issued by the Department of Interior, saying how proud they are to have distributed some money, royalties, for conservation to interior States.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:


WASHINGTON.-Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton announced today that 36 states received more than $1 billion during 2003 as part of their share of federal revenues collected by the Department's Minerals Management Service.
The $1,096,699,888 distributed to states during the year, was nearly 46 percent more than 2002 payments to states that totaled $753 million.

"Responsible energy development on public lands and offshore areas contribute greatly to states and local governments," Norton said. "The money enables local governments to fund important projects for the betterment of communities and the lives of Americans."

The nearly $1.1 billion distributed through December of last year represents the states' cumulative share of revenues collected from mineral production on federal lands located within their borders, and from federal offshore oil and gas tracts adjacent to their shores.

"In many cases states share their revenues with counties, which apply the money to meet needs like infrastructure improvements and school funding," MMS Director Johnnie Burton said.

During calendar year 2003, the state of Wyoming again led all states by receiving more than $503 million as its share of revenues collected from mineral production on federal lands within its borders, including oil, gas and coal production. New Mexico's share was more than $318 million, while $62.7 million was received by the state of Colorado. Other states sharing revenues included Utah with more than $54.4 million; Louisiana with $31.5 million; Montana at $26.9 million; and California with more than $25.3 million. (Complete table provided below.)

A state is entitled to a share of the mineral revenues collected from federal lands located within that state's boundaries. For the majority of onshore federal lands, states receive 50 percent of the revenues while the other 50 percent goes to various funds of the U.S. Treasury, including the DOI Reclamation Fund. Alaska receives a 90 percent share as prescribed by the Alaska Statehood Act. States may also receive appropriations from the offshore royalty-funded Land and Water Conservation Fund to help them with park and land acquisitions.

In addition, coastal states with producing federal offshore tracts adjacent to their seaward boundaries receive 27 percent of those mineral royalties. Remaining offshore revenues collected by the Minerals Management Service are deposited in various accounts of the U.S. Treasury, with the majority of those revenues going to the General Fund.

MMS is the federal agency in the U.S. Department of the Interior that manages the nation's oil, natural gas, and other mineral resources on the outer continental shelf in federal offshore waters. The agency also collects, accounts for, and disburses mineral revenues from Federal and American Indian lands. Between 1982 and 2003, MMS distributed more than $135 billion in revenues from onshore and offshore lands, an average of more than $6 billion per year, to the Nation, States and American Indians. Nearly $1 billion from those revenues goes into the Land and Water Conservation Fund annually for the development of State and Federal park and recreation lands.

Alabama $14,601,401
Alaska 13,126,183
Arizona 128,474
Arkansas 4,379,518
California 25,336,757
Colorado 62,703,158
Florida 387,298
Georgia 54
Idaho 1,880,786
Illinois 100,822
Indiana 6,438
Kansas 1,928,091
Kentucky 55,782
Louisiana 31,561,211
Michigan 425,844
Minnesota 17,427
Mississippi 1,231,716
Missouri 169,832
Montana 26,906,699
Nebraska 15,125
Nevada 5,015,687
New Mexico 318,768,793
North Carolina 118
North Dakota 5,139,095
Ohio 301,952
Oklahoma 3,541,950
Oregon 30,608
Pennsylvania 22,312
South Carolina 20,602
South Dakota 413,977
Texas 19,069,085
Utah 54,443,508
Virginia 2,099
Washington 815,708
West Virginia 379,821
Wyoming 503,771,957

Total 1,096,699,888

Ms. LANDRIEU. We ask the same, that the same process that is in the law for onshore oil and gas drilling be in the law for off-shore oil and gas drilling. The onshore revenue provision has been in place since the early 1920s.

The record is clear. This, basically, is the essence of what our bill does to mark the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Let's actually find a way to fund it. That is what our bill will do.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.

Mr. ALEXANDER. I commend the Senator from Louisiana. She has worked hard for 6 years on legislation like this. I am proud to join her on the 40th anniversary of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to continue its bipartisan support.

If I may ask through the Chair a question to the Senator from Louisiana. She mentions that for 50 years we have had a tradition in this country of a State royalty. In other words, if you drill for oil in Wyoming, for example, there is a royalty paid to the State of Wyoming, which is 50 cents out of every dollar of revenues.

I wonder if the Senator from Louisiana knows what amount of money that royalty produced for the State of Wyoming this year?

Ms. LANDRIEU. Yes, I do. I happen to have that document right here.

I understand the State of Wyoming, according to this document, has received over $500 million. Yes, $503,771,000 this year, which was the State royalty for Wyoming.

For the record, New Mexico received this year $318,768,000 in the same account.

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