Issue: S. 47, National Resources Management Act (officially titled as the “John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act.” A bill to provide for the management of the natural resources of the United States, and for other purposes. Question: On Passage of the Bill (S.47, As Amended).
Result: Passed in Senate, 92 to 8. (Passed by the House, Roll Call 95, 2-26-19). Became Public Law No. 116-9 (signed by the President, 3-12-19).
Freedom First Society: S. 47 combines over 100 bills affecting “public” lands and waters around the country. Some are of minor impact, but others further unconstitutional federal power grabs in support of a subversive agenda.
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That agenda is suggested by its “environmentalist” support: “It is probably the most important environmental legislation in half a century….” (Save Our Canyons). “The Land and Water Conservation Fund may be the most important federal conservation program that you’ve never heard of.” (Sierra Club). (See our further analysis below.)
We give blue check marks to the 8 GOP senators who voted against this measure, which was unanimously supported by the Democrats.
We have assigned (good vote) to the Nays and (bad vote) to the Yeas. (P = voted present; ? = not voting; blank = not listed on roll call.)
Bill Summary: The Senate Republican Policy Committee [RPC] provided the following summary of S. 47 in a February 1, 2019 legislative notice:
“Executive Summary: The bill contains program and project authorizations, land conveyances and exchanges, special land designations, boundary modifications, and new management direction affecting public lands and waters around the country. The single largest authorization generating significant interest is a permanent authorization of the deposit provisions of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which primarily funds and supports acquisition of land by the federal government and a matching grant program to assist states in planning, acquiring lands, and developing facilities for outdoor recreation. Most LWCF funding comes from revenues generated from oil and gas leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf.” [Emphasis added.]
Analysis: The Senate RPC report continued:
“While S. 47 is comprised of many different bills, permanently authorizing the expired deposit provisions of the LWCF [Land and Water Conservation Fund] is arguably its single most significant aspect. Originally established in 1965, the LWCF funds land acquisition for outdoor recreation; a grant program to states to plan and develop outdoor recreational facilities; and programs with related purposes such as the Forest Legacy program and the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund….
“Opponents of permanent reauthorization generally object to acquisition of more land by the federal government and the need to maintain the lands the federal government already owns.”
Land and Water Conservation Fund [LWCF]
While other parts of S.47 expose the federal government as pursuing a revolutionary course below the public radar screen, we will focus our primary objection here based on its permanent authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
To understand the driving agenda behind the Land and Water Conservation Fund it is well to consider the forces that propelled it into existence in 1964. In a June 1975 article for American Opinion magazine, author-researcher Gary Allen described the disturbing origins of this program and its goals:
“[T]he purpose of the [Rockefeller] Thirteen-Thirteen syndicate is to plan and lobby for more collectivist control over the states and the people. Probably only one American in a thousand is even aware of the existence of this powerful and important lobby complex. In the Congressional Hearings, however, the names of the Thirteen-Thirteen fronts pop up again and again as backers of land-control bills. Among these are the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, the Council of State Governments, the National League of Cities, the National Conference of Mayors, and the National Association of Counties. All are Rockefeller-controlled enterprises.
“It was at the urging of these Rockefeller groups that Congress created the Outdoor Recreation Resource Review Commission in 1958. President Eisenhower, coincidentally, named Laurance S. Rockefeller chairman. On January 31, 1962, Rockefeller submitted a final report to President John F. Kennedy. It included these recommendations:
“Establishment of an over-all national recreation policy which would heavily emphasize coordination of federal, state, and private activity in the field of outdoor recreation;
“Creation of a federal bureau of Outdoor Recreation to serve as national coordinator of all such policy and planning;
“Establishment by Congress of a Land and Water Conservation Fund to finance federal purchases of private land for outdoor recreational purposes, and to subsidize state planning and state purchases of private land for outdoor recreation.” [Emphasis added.]
“The Rockefeller proposals were soon implemented. Writing in The Review Of The News for June 12, 1974, [former FBI official and Constitution expert] Dan Smoot noted:
“In April, 1962, President Kennedy created, by executive action, the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, and sent a message asking Congress to give the Bureau statutory authority and to authorize the other programs recommended by Rockefeller. In 1963, Congress by law ‘authorized’ the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, which Kennedy had already illegally set up; and in 1964, the Congress passed the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act.
“Propaganda about conservation and the need to establish ‘recreational areas’ easily deceived the public. After all, who wants to be against conservation and recreation?” [Emphasis added.]
However, as Allen pointed out land control is viewed by totalitarian planners as a route to people control:
“Modern land planning traces its origins back to Karl Marx. In the Communist Manifesto of 1848, you will recall, Marx cited ten steps necessary to the establishment of Communism. Step One was ‘abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.’ Step Seven called for public use of land ‘in accordance with a common plan.’…
“But ours is not a Communist state. Here, by law and tradition, a man’s home is his castle; his lands and properties his to do with as he chooses. Under our American Constitution, the right of the people to own and control property has been a historic check upon government power. Where the government owns or controls the land and the buildings on the land, the people may make no use of real property without government permits. Their property rights in their homes, farms, and businesses are thus abolished. Which is why land control is people control. Thus, land-use planning legislation proposing a common plan for the United States, as determined by federal, state, or local bureaucrats, would effectively accomplish the same results as the Soviet Constitution.
“All of this is not only admitted by the advocates of federal land-use regulation, but they boast of it. Russell Train, head of the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) [and member of the Establishment’s Council on Foreign Relations], was quoted by the New York Times of September 3, 1973, as observing: ‘In my opinion there is no way to avoid integral planning of land use with transportation, housing utilities, farm policy and so on.’ The very next day another ‘high federal official’ was cited by the Times as exploring the need for federal land control. He was quoted as saying: ‘It would be a miracle if 50 states, operating independently, gave us the exact distribution of farmland, industry, power plants, forests, and public beaches, not to mention population, that would best serve the overall national interest.’
“That is collectivist doubletalk, and Karl Marx couldn’t have put it better. The catch is, of course, that under federal land control the bureaucrats and their Establishment bosses will determine what is in the ‘national interest,’ just as they have with bussing, and racist Affirmative Action programs, and the thousand other little tyrannies to which we are being subjected. Control of land, as we said, is people control. Karl Marx knew that. Lenin knew that. Hitler knew that. And the Establishment Insiders using government to take control of America know it too. To control the people every totalitarian system must control not only its physical territory but the essential environment — and that means central land-use planning and control.”
Not surprisingly, “environmentalist” groups applaud the significance of the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the S. 47 package. For example, in its online national magazine for February 27, the Left-wing Sierra Club reported:
“On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed the Natural Resources Management Act, the lands conservation bill that combines more than 100 pieces of legislation protecting 3-million-plus acres of land. The bill, which the Senate overwhelmingly passed two weeks ago, also classifies hundreds of miles of US rivers as wild, scenic, or recreational, and creates three new national monuments.
“The act is the culmination of four years of effort and a rare example of broad bipartisan deal-making. For environmentalists, and anyone who cares about public land, there’s a lot to be excited about….
“2) The Land and Water Conservation Fund has been permanently reauthorized.
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund may be the most important federal conservation program that you’ve never heard of. Established in 1964, it uses fees from offshore drilling to pay for onshore conservation programs. Since expiring in 2014, it’s been temporarily funded every few years. Last September, it expired again and was still waiting to be renewed. The popular bipartisan program has helped to preserve and protect outdoor spaces in all 50 states, allocating funds for everything from the park where your kid plays soccer to remote, untrammeled wilderness.” [Emphasis added.]
And on March 14, the environmentalist “Save Our Canyons.org” exclaimed:
“For a few weeks we’ve been celebrating the passage of the Natural Resources Management Act of 2019, and we expect to be celebrating its provisions for many years to come. It is probably the most important environmental legislation in half a century….
“Many of the act’s creations are quite minor, in our opinion… But let’s start with some of the most important provisions of S.47.
“First, nationally, is the restoration of the expired Land and Water Conservation Fund. Also nationally, there is the Get Kids Outdoors piece, providing free access to fourth graders and their sponsors to National Parks….
“Nationally, there will be many pieces of new and expanded Wildernesses, totaling another 2/3 million acres, along with equivalent acreage of Recreation and Conservation Areas, largely withdrawn from mineral development.” [Emphasis added.]
Against the background Allen provides in his 1975 article, the eagerness of politicians to tout the recreational benefits of their S. 47 largesse takes on disturbing significance. We’ll look at and comment on some of the Senate endorsements in the Congressional Record for 2-12-19. [For House comments, please see our scoring of House Roll Call 95 on S. 47, 2-26-19.]
From the Congressional Record (2-12-19) [Emphasis added]:
Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), member Senate Committee on Energy and National Resources: “Madam President, today we are making some great progress on a bill that is very important to so many Members in this Chamber and particularly important to the American people — a public lands package that, in some cases, has taken years for these bills to process through the Senate and hopefully are on their way to passage in the House and to the President’s desk. For 4 years, since being in the Senate, I have worked to permanently reauthorize the crown jewel of our conservation programs, and we are about to have that crown jewel success, permanent authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund — the passage of the public lands bill….
“The Land and Water and Conservation Fund is used to help give access to land that the American people already own, to enjoy, to benefit from, to create economic opportunities, and, more importantly, to create the opportunity just to be in our amazing, wonderful outdoors.”
Freedom First Society: Amazing what bipartisan gifts we receive from a caring Congress! Now we have the “opportunity just to be in our amazing, wonderful outdoors.”
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Ranking Member in previous Congress of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources: “Madam President, I come to the floor to talk about S. 47 a bill I authored with Senator Murkowski. It is a package of public land issues that has been working its way through the Congress now for several years. I would like to point out to people who may not be as familiar with the Interior side of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s work, that the Interior side has a long history in our Nation. We decided a long time ago that we needed to have oversight and management of our public lands. S. 47 the legislation that is before us today, is a recognition that our climate is changing and that we need new tools to carry out new responsibilities as it relates to managing those public lands.
“We have had a big discussion here about whether we should return public lands to oil and gas drilling, and this bill basically says no, we are going to make a bigger investment in our public lands….
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund has been a preeminent program for access to public lands, but it had been threatened when Congress allowed it to expire 3 years ago, then only having a temporary reauthorization, and then failing again to reauthorize it last September. What we are doing here now is saying that this is a bipartisan issue, that more than 60 Senators here in the Senate didn’t just see that we needed to further adjust this program but we needed to save this program. I emphasize this because I know my colleagues here in the Senate are going to go on to a larger discussion, which is to secure the funding that is set aside for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and how it is spent, and we are going to get into a conversation about how we take care of our maintenance and the backlog at our national parks. I definitely believe that the mandatory spending for LWCF should be in a future budget, and I certainly believe we should do more to take care of our backlog and maintenance at our national parks. So I look forward to working with both sides of the aisle to push that through the U.S. Senate.
“This legislation is amazing because there are some — particularly in this administration — who want to use public lands to oil and gas drilling, but there is a bipartisan group here in the U.S. Senate who has said: No, we want to put more focus on saving our public lands. This legislation preserves over 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, and 367 miles of wild and scenic rivers….
“I want to talk about how this bill invests in water. The water issues are like fire; they are not going to go away. The only question is going to be this: What kinds of tools do we give communities across the West — and I should say probably throughout the United States — to deal with the changing climate and the impacts of less and less water?”
Freedom First Society: One obvious conclusion from the fact that it takes Congress years ostensibly to fix federeal programs is that Congress has enabled the federal government to grow beyond what it is able to manage. In the above, Senator Cantwell presents the man-made climate change pretext for further government controls as a scientific given. It’s not! Often, “the tools” fedgov should give the States are simply to get out of their way and quit implementing the radical agenda of those who would obstruct responsible forest management efforts.”
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon): “Mr. President, as a former chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I have a pretty good sense of how complicated it is to pull together a legislative package of public lands like the one this Senate is about to pass….
“This public lands bill may not be perfect, but it is a major accomplishment. If you had told me, in a polarized political climate like the one we have today, that we could get a permanent authorization for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, I would have said, ‘No way. Can’t happen,’ but now we have real protection for, as it is called, LWCF.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.): “Madam President, I rise today to voice my strong support for the ‘Natural Resources Management Act,’ otherwise known as the Public Lands Package. I am a proud cosponsor of this package because it contains many important priorities for California’s public lands, particularly the ‘California Desert Protection and Recreation Act.’ That bill represents the culmination of decades of collaborative efforts to protect our desert that began in my very first year in the Senate. The lands package also includes a bill I first introduced 10 years ago to create California’s first National Heritage Area in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, as well as two bills to facilitate smarter management of public lands and water infrastructure in our local communities….
“Before I conclude, I would also like to thank Senator Murkowski for including in the package a permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. In California alone, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has been responsible for the creation or improvement of more than 1,000 parks since 1965. It has also helped to protect some of California’s most iconic places, including the Lake Tahoe Basin, the California desert, Point Reyes National Seashore, Headwaters Forest, the San Diego and Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuges, and the national forests of the Sierra Nevada. Once again, I am proud to cosponsor and support this vitally important and beneficial legislation, and I urge my colleagues to vote for it.”
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources: “Madam President, we are now down to the final minutes of debate on S. 47, our Natural Resources Management Act…. “We are looking forward to sending this to our colleagues on the House side for their review and their support and, hopefully, shortly after that, their ratification. When we take a package that is over 100 bills from over 50 different Senators and over 90 who have signed on as cosponsors, that demonstrates something.”
Freedom First Society: What it demonstrates is that America is in trouble and that we can’t count on political leadership to rescue us.