Without action from Congress, a program that has been in place for more than fifty years to acquire and improve public lands will expire on September 30. The Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has helped preserve natural resources and cultural sites that are critical to our country.
Congress created the LWCF in 1964 to protect natural resources and provide opportunities for outdoor recreation. Like Alabama’s Forever Wild Land Trust, the LWCF uses no taxpayer dollars and instead invests proceeds from oil and gas leases. The LWCF provides grants to states and local communities to acquire land, while also acquiring federal land to complement our national parks.
In Alabama, the LWCF made grants to fifteen communities in 2017 alone for projects including a splash pad at Selma’s Riverfront Park and renovations to East Lake Park in Birmingham. From Battleship Park along Mobile Bay to Little River Canyon in North Alabama, our state has benefitted tremendously from the LWCF. Communities have added and expanded recreational facilities and provided invaluable access to our public lands.
Please join us in asking Congress to take action and renew the Land & Water Conservation Fund. If the LWCF is allowed to expire, the legacy of public lands in the United States expires with it.
Over the weekend, a juvenile bald eagle was released back into the wild at Roland Cooper State Park after being treated at the Southeastern Raptor Center. Bald eagles can be found all over Alabama, but just a few decades ago the species was in danger of dying out because of habitat destruction and pesticide use. Unfortunately, the law that brought bald eagles back from the brink is now in danger of being seriously weakened by the current administration.
In 1972, President Richard Nixon asked Congress to protect species that were approaching extinction. The Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973 to recognize that wildlife has immense value for our country, and as such measures should be taken to preserve it. Thanks to this law, habitats are protected so that species like the Bald Eagle can safely nest and raise their young. The pesticide DDT was banned because of its negative impact on our environment. We have the Endangered Species Act to thank for the recovery of iconic American species like the gray wolf, alligators, and the grizzly bear.
In the past two weeks, dozens of bills have been introduced in Congress that would weaken the Endangered Species Act. These include provisions to end protections for the gray wolf in Wyoming and along the Great Lakes, as well as a plan to prohibit the greater sage-grouse from being listed as endangered for the next decade regardless of how few remain. One proposed change to the legislation would make it easier for development projects to be approved even if they threaten critical wildlife habitat. Please ask your members of Congress to defend the Endangered Species Act against these attacks.
The Endangered Species Act works. It has restored animal and plant populations to healthy levels and proven that we can preserve American wildlife. The Act has broad, bipartisan support from conservation groups as well as hunters and property rights groups. When polled, four of out five Americans support the Endangered Species Act. The changes being proposed would limit the Act and ultimately hurt American wildlife. Please join us in asking Congress to protect the species that help make this country great.
On Tuesday, Conservation Alabama joined advocates and elected officials in Birmingham for a press conference to denounce the proposed rollback of federal Clean Car Standards. (If you missed it, watch the full press conference here.) The Clean Car Standards are particularly important in Alabama: thousands of jobs have been added here to help build clean, low-emissions vehicles, and our state has high rates of respiratory illnesses that are made worse by pollution from cars.
The Clean Car Standards were finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2012, and were aimed at reducing air pollution by mandating higher emission standards for cars made from 2017-2025. Under the current administration, the EPA has signaled that these emissions standards will be lowered, increasing the carbon pollution that will be released into our air and ending gains that have been made in innovating fuel-efficient vehicles.
The creation of the Clean Car Standards was supported by car manufacturers, labor groups, and environmental groups. Polling shows that 87% of Americans want more fuel-efficient cars, which is exactly what the Clean Car Standards will provide. As currently written, the Clean Car Standards will cut six billion pounds of carbon pollution from our air and will save consumers more than $1 trillion at the gas pump.
Getting rid of the higher emissions standards will mean that the average Alabama family will spend an additional $630 each year on fuel. It also means that more harmful emissions will be released into our air, causing respiratory diseases and increasing the frequency of dangerous weather events.
When the official proposal to roll back the Clean Car Standards is released, there will be an opportunity for the public to comment. As soon as that is available we will share it with you so you can voice your support for Clean Car Standards. In the meantime, the League of Conservation Voters has a petition you can sign today to let the EPA know you value the Clean Car Standards. They’re making a difference in Alabama’s economy, our environment, and our public health.