Last week, Steve Pearce revealed that he is the only member of New Mexico’s federal delegation to oppose permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
“We can’t trust Steve Pearce to protect our public lands, one of our most precious resources,” said Marg Elliston, Chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico. “Protecting and preserving New Mexico’s natural beauty should be a nonpartisan priority, and yet, it’s always up to strong advocates for public lands like Congressmembers Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ben Ray Lujan and Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall to protect our state’s landscapes from Republican attacks.”
A government program that has provided $312 million to over 1,200 projects in New Mexico since its inception in 1965 is scheduled to expire at the end of September, and Congress has yet to act.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund, designed to improve access to public land and water, is funded through offshore drilling royalties.
With the exception of Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., each member of the New Mexico delegation supports permanent reauthorization of the fund.
“I support reauthorizing and fully funding the LWCF. This, however, should not be a permanent reauthorization,” Pearce said in an emailed statement. “Just as changes are needed during this debate – future changes will be needed and that is protected by reauthorizing the program from time to time.”
Pearce said that in recent years, the fund has been used heavily for land acquisition.
“This model is unsustainable, as the government cannot manage the lands it already has,” he said.
Rebekah Hoshiko, a spokeswoman for the House Committee on Natural Resources, wrote in an email that the fund is generally used for three purposes: as the main funding source for land acquisition by the Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service; a grant program that aids states in recreational planning, acquiring lands and waters, and developing outdoor recreational facilities; and other federal programs.
“In FY18, funding was roughly even to all three purposes,” she wrote.
The bipartisan spirit that led to LWCF’s initial passage is being rekindled as a growing number of political adversaries are coming together to share their support. All of New Mexico’s delegation has signed on as co-sponsors of bills supporting LWCF – except for Republican Rep. Steve Pearce.
Earlier this week, Pearce told the Albuquerque Journal that he supports reauthorizing, although not permanently, and fully funding LWCF. In regard to funding, Pearce voted against fully funding LWCF in 2016 and this past summer voted twice to take funds away from the program. We want to believe him, and his constituents who have had hundreds of parks and projects supported by LWCF want to believe him, but Pearce needs to back up his words with action.
The fund has supported more than $300m in New Mexico investments, supporting our outdoor recreation, public lands, and park, and the entire rest of the New Mexico delegation, alongside a bipartisan majority of representatives have co-sponsored legislation to reauthorize the fund.
But Pearce has a long record of working to undermine the fund.
- 2018: Pearce voted to divert LWCF Funding: [Biggs Amendment, Vote #341, 7/18/2018; LCV, Accessed 9/4/2018]
- 2017: Pearce Voted for Interior Appropriations bill that would cut fund by 32%. [HR 5224, Vote #528, 9/14/2017; LCV, Accessed 9/4/2018]
- 2016: Pearce Voted against permanent reauthorization of fund: [Motion to instruct conferees, Vote #264, 5/25/2016; LCV, Accessed 9/4/2018]
- 2011: Pearce voted to cut allocation to fund by 90% [Lummis Amendment, Vote #61, 2/16/2011; LCV, Accessed 9/4/2018]
- 2005: Pearce voted for budget resolution to slash funding for LWCF: [H Con Res 95, Vote #88, 3/17/2005; LCV, Accessed 9/4/2018]
- Center for American Progress: “Rep. Pearce has cosponsored six pieces of legislation that cover land seizure, attacks to the Antiquities Act, and legislation that would prioritize logging over recreation and open new areas to roads and clear cutting. In response the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Pearce issued a joint statement that condemned the actions of federal officials while failing to decry the law-breaking actions of the armed militants.”
Leaders across New Mexico have called on Pearce to act:
- Bipartisan group of over 40 local elected officials urge NM delegation to permanently reauthorize fund.
- More than 80 NM business leaders urge permanent reauthorization
- Maggie Hart-Stebbins / Bernalillo County Commissioner, Rock Ulibarri / San Miguel County Commissioner, and Nora Barraza / Mesilla Mayor: Congress should permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund: “Our representatives in Congress, most notably U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both D-N.M., have long been champions of LWCF, and we are grateful. We need them to work harder than ever before, in a difficult environment in D.C., to get the LWCF reauthorized. Our U.S. Representatives on the House side, Democrats Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham and Republican Steve Pearce, must work with their colleagues, too.”
- Military Veterans Launch Ad Asking Rep. Pearce to Support New Mexico Parks, Vets and Families by Supporting the Land and Water Conservation Fund