Trump inks law to fund infrastructure maintenance with offshore oil and gas royalties
U.S. President Donald Trump has signed into law a bipartisan bill which would use royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling operations to fund maintenance of public lands, national parks and Native American schools.
Trump said at the signing of the bill that more than 5,500 miles of road, 17,000 miles of trails, and 24,000 buildings were in critical need of repair.
“Today we’re making the most significant investment in our parks since the administration of the legendary conservationist President Theodore Roosevelt”, Trump said during a signing ceremony at the White House.
According to an article by Reuters, the Great American Outdoors Act will permanently direct $900 million a year to a long-standing federal program aimed at acquiring and protecting public lands.
Work on the unusual bipartisan effort was led by Republican Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado and Steve Daines of Montana, who are both up for re-election this year and spoke at the event, and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Reuters added that the law would insulate the Land and Water Conservation Fund from the congressional appropriations process, ensuring steady funding at double the level seen in recent years by tapping royalties paid by offshore oil and gas drilling operations.
It is worth noting that the Land and Water Conservation Fund was created in 1964, but Congress in most years diverted funding for it to other uses. It received $495 million in funding last year.
Trump said the law would provide $10 billion to address deferred maintenance needs at national parks and forests, without “bludgeoning our workers and crushing our businesses”.
Also, Vice President Mike Pence said the measure would create more than 110,000 new infrastructure jobs across the country.