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President Clinton Calls on Congress to Act Now on Permanent Conservation Funding

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President Clinton calls on Congress to act now on permanent conservation funding (9/21/00)

President Clinton today will call on Congress to act now on historic bipartisan legislation to ensure permanent conservation funding to protect critical lands across America. Joined by state and local officials, and representatives of recreation and conservation organizations, the President will urge the Senate to pass the bipartisan Conservation and Reinvestment Act, which would provide guaranteed funding to support federal protection of natural treasures and to help states and communities protect urban parks, farmland, forests, battlefields, coastland, and other green spaces. He will also call on Congress to fully fund his fiscal year 2001 land conservation budget and send him budget bills free of anti-environmental riders.

Protecting America's Critical Lands. Over the past seven years, President Clinton has secured stronger protection for tens of millions of acres of precious land across America protecting Yellowstone National Park from mining, forging an historic agreement to protect ancient California redwoods, permanently protecting the Baca Ranch in New Mexico, and restoring the Florida Everglades. Last year, the President secured $652 million -- a 42 percent increase to support federal, state, and local efforts to protect America's land and coastal resources in FY 2000. So far, Congress has approved less than half of the President's request for these priorities in FY 2001. Today, the President will call upon Congress to fully fund his FY 2001 land conservation budget.

Broad Bipartisan Support for Permanent Conservation Funding. To ensure strong conservation efforts in the years ahead, the President has called for the creation of a permanent endowment to protect America's critical lands. His fiscal year 2001 budget proposes a new category to ensure permanent funding of at least $1.4 billion per year, with at least half going to support state and local conservation efforts. Permanent funding would ensure that the federal government, states, and local communities have a consistent and reliable funding source to protect open spaces, farmland, forests, ocean and coastal resources, and urban and suburban parks. It would mean that citizens could enjoy more open spaces, and that future generations of Americans can appreciate the incomparable natural treasures that are among this nation's greatest riches.

The call for permanent conservation funding has received broad bipartisan support this year. The Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) passed the House with more than 300 votes, and the Senate Energy Committee reported a bipartisan bill that close to two-thirds of the Senate has said must be considered this year. In a demonstration of the broad national support this legislation enjoys, President Clinton will be joined at the White House today by education, municipal, sports, conservation, outdoor recreation and wildlife protection leaders. With them, he will call on the Senate to pass this important legislation before Congress adjourns.

Fighting Anti-Environmental Riders. The President will also call upon Congress to send him budget bills free of anti-environmental riders. Bills now before Congress contain riders that aim to: block cleanup of contaminated sediments at Superfund sites; undermine efforts to improve air quality; weaken protections for our drinking water; prevent hard- rock mining reforms on public lands; promote overcutting of timber on national forests; block common sense efforts to improve energy conservation and combat climate change; and undermine efforts to protect endangered species.

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