(UPDATE - 6/6/20): This bill has been amended from its original form to serve as the legislative vehicle for a bipartisan bill that would use funds generated from energy development on federal lands & waters to address the nearly $12 billion backlog of deferred maintenance projects at National Parks and on other public lands. In its original form, the bill was known as the Taxpayers First Act, which was subsequently enacted as a separate standalone bill. The current bill, known as the Great American Outdoors Act, would establish a National Parks & Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund to support deferred maintenance projects on federal lands, and make funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund permanent. A breakdown of the bill’s current provisions can be found below.
For fiscal years 2021-2025, the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund would receive an amount equal to 50% of all federal revenues from the development of oil, gas, coal, or alternative & renewable energy on federal lands & waters. Deposited amounts wouldn’t be allowed to exceed $1.9 billion for any fiscal year. Deposited funds would be used for priority deferred maintenance projects in the public lands systems specified below, and funds would be distributed in the corresponding proportions listed below:
National Park Service - 70% of funds;
Forest Service - 15% of funds;
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - 5% of funds;
Bureau of Land Management - 5% of funds; and
Bureau of Indian Education - 5% of funds.
Funds in the National Parks & Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund couldn’t be used for land acquisition; to supplant discretionary funding made available for annually recurring facility operations, maintenance, and construction needs; or for bonuses for employees of the federal government carrying out this section.
The Secretary of the Interior & Secretary of Agriculture (who oversees the Forest Service) would submit a list of priority projects to Congress within 90 days of the bill’s enactment, and each year thereafter which lists each project, describes it, and estimates spending on it for a given fiscal year. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) would be required to produce a report on the effectiveness of the fund in reducing the backlog of priority deferred maintenance projects for the specified agencies.
This bill would also allow public cash or in-kind donations to the Fund, which may be used to reduce the NPS maintenance backlog or to encourage relevant public-private partnerships.
Additionally, this bill would make funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) permanent. The president would be required to provide Congress with an annual report with details regarding the allocation of funds to the LWCF. Congress would be able to provide for alternate allocations using specified procedures.