The nation’s governors are concerned about the growing challenges facing both state and federal agencies in managing and protecting our natural resources. As the United States’ diverse population rapidly expands, governors nationwide are addressing the issue of how best to use America’s land while preserving community character and protecting environmental health.
Farm Bill Reauthorization
With the reauthorization of the Food Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, Congress must afford states greater flexibility and an increased role in the allocation of federal grant monies to accommodate state priorities. This new strengthened state-federal partnership is critical to the increased efficiency and effective delivery of programs and will be crucial to a thriving farm economy.
- Governors support innovative, voluntary programs that offer targeted incentives to address natural resources stewardship, including incentives for working lands.
- All United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs should be voluntary and provide the option for individuals to choose either time-limited or perpetual easements, and should be coordinated and implemented through partnerships among USDA, tribes, state, territorial and commonwealth governments, political subdivisions or agencies.
- The role of states and USDA in market promotion must be clarified to ensure complementary work and reduce duplication of efforts and marketing should include high-valued and processed agricultural products.
- All food products that have been approved by a state inspection program that meets federal standards should be allowed to be shipped interstate.
- Congress should more clearly define its rural and economic development initiatives and goals, including more effective targeting of federal resources through greater reliance on states, increased flexibility for states in using federal programs and improved coordination between federal programs and state services.
- Stable sources of credit for rural communities need to be established.
- Congress should continue to promote and expand environmentally responsible use of farm and forest biomass for renewable energy production.
Land and Water Conservation Fund
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) allows federal and state governments to obtain and develop outdoor recreation areas and facilities. Current statutory language requires the federal program to receive a “minimum” of forty percent of LWCF annual appropriations. The law is silent on the amount of funds the state-side of the program should receive.
- Federal revenues that are dedicated for the LWCF trust account should not be diverted for other program purposes.
- Governors support formula funding distribution methodology for distribution of state-side appropriations, as opposed to a federally-administered competitive grant program.
Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act / Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT)
While governors believe that hosting federal public land has many positive effects, it also carries a significant economic impact on local governments and states. For a time, these effects were partly reconciled by the use of PILT and county payments, which were most recently delivered by the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act. Governors urge Congress to honor long-standing commitments to public lands areas across all the states.
The nation’s federal, state, and local environmental laws have been enacted to protect human health and the environment. In the same way that private-sector facilities are required to comply with these laws, federal facilities must comply with and be held to these same standards. There can be no justification for any lower standard of protection of public health and the environment from federal facilities than from any other facility. Maintaining and enhancing independent state oversight and regulation of environmental compliance at federal facilities is critical to continued success in cleaning up federal facilities.
- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) should continue to work with the NGA’s Federal Facilities Task Force and other stakeholders early in the development of cleanup plans.
- Governors support efforts to accelerate the cleanup of DOE sites, provided that accelerated cleanup does not result in inadequate cleanup and lax regulatory compliance, established commitments are achieved, and in instances where waste will remain onsite, a long-term stewardship plan has been agreed to by state regulators.
- DOE should ensure that its programs with ongoing missions are required to budget for proper facility maintenance and decommissioning costs and discourage passing those costs along to DOE’s Environmental Management program.
- The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) must develop comprehensive waste management programs at each of its sites that prioritize the most serious problems, long-term stewardship plans and plans for concerted and expeditious cleanup.
- Governors oppose the assertion of sovereign immunity by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding Formerly Used Defense Sites.
NGA Letter Regarding the Public Land Communities Transition Assistance Act of 2007
December 3, 2007 letter (from Governor Manchin and Governor Palin) to Senate Majority Leader Reid, Senate Minority Leader McConnell, House Speaker Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Boehner urging Congress to pass the Public Land Communities Transition Assistance Act of 2007 (H.R. 3058).
NGA Letter Regarding the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act
September 19, 2006 letter (from Governor Huntsman and Governor Richardson) to the House and Senate leadership requesting reauthorization this Congress of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (P.L. 106-393) to fund schools, roads, forest improvement projects, and other essential services in rural counties that host our national forests.
NGA Letter on Appropriations Including the Stateside Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)
May 26, 2005 letter (from Governor Murkowski and Governor Freudenthal) to Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies Chairman Burns and Ranking Member Dorgan urging adequate funding of the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF), Stateside Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and State Wildlife and Endangered Species Grant Programs for Fiscal Year 2006.