Unanimous Consent Request—S. 338by Senator Mike Lee
Posted on 2015-02-05
LEE. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, the Land and
Water Conservation Fund is used for a number of purposes, although the
primary purpose involves the acquisition of new Federal land. Funding
the acquisition of new Federal land at a time when Federal agencies can
barely take care of the land they already have does raise some rather
significant questions that need to be addressed.
The Department of Interior faces a combined maintenance backlog of over $20 billion--$13 billion in our National Park Service alone. We struggle with ways to fund the Payment in Lieu of Taxes Program, the intent of which was to mitigate the burden of Federal land to local communities where there is an abundance of Federal land that can't be taxed.
Coming from a State that is dominated by Federal land ownership--two- thirds of the land in Utah is controlled by Federal agencies. Any new Federal land ownership must be examined with a healthy degree of skepticism. There are many issues that need to be considered and debated before we reauthorize any program that would potentially expand the Federal Government's land holdings.
I certainly support opening our public lands for recreation, including for purposes related to hunting and fishing, and I believe that the Land and Water Conservation Fund could also be used to mitigate the negative impacts of Federal regulations on private property such as listings under the Endangered Species Act.
But reform isn't likely to happen. In fact, reform may well be impossible if we allow this bill to pass as is without going through the proper procedures. This bill should be subject to debate and amendment, first at the committee level and then on the floor of the Senate.
That is what needs to happen, and on that basis I object.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.