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Friday, April 6, 2012

Drilling Fees Pay for New National Forest Lands

Ever wonder about how much of America's land the federal government owns and what the government does with rent and royalty income? The government owns 650 million acres or about 30 percent of the U.S. land mass.
Okay… but does America really need more national forest lands? Offshore drilling fees are financing the purchase of $41.6 million worth of new national forest lands in 15 states....The purchases from willing sellers represent about 20,000 acres, which were chosen from 68 applications. The money comes from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, created in 1964. Congress taps mitigation fees paid by companies drilling for offshore oil and gas to finance the fund year to year. The fund is capped at $900 million a year. Other federal agencies also use it.
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The government doesn't use royalty/rent income to reduce the deficit or fund social services programs. It uses the income to buy more land. Broke as the government, it wants to spend more money gobbling up more land.

The U.S. Senate has approved of a $109 billion bill that provides two years of funding for transportation and transit projects around the country. The bill may or may not be taken up by the U.S. House Representatives depending on if they choose to write a separate House bill, but hopefully what will be left out of any final version is an amendment by Montana U.S. Sen. Max Baucus. His amendment funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to the tune of $1.4 billion for fiscal years 2013 and 2014 — quite a jump from the $323 million it is currently receiving in FY 2012 . Why does the LWCF need such a boost from Congress? This Fund helps purchase and protects lands across the country. Evidently the line of thinking within the Senate is more U.S. lands are in need of being purchased and protected by the federal government. The federal government owns almost 650 million acres of land in the U.S. That’s about 30 percent of all the land area in the nation and includes national parks, forests and wildlife refuges. In other words, it’s equivalent to 1 out of every 3 acres in the U.S. — 1 out of every 2 acres in the West...
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