Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), taking part in the dedication of almost four hundred acres of additional land to the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, today called on Congress to highlight Earth Day by supporting legislation that would reduce fuel costs while supporting conservation of the Great American Outdoors.
“We can take action to lower fuel prices while building new city parks,” said Alexander, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. “In 2006, Congress passed my legislation that dedicated one-eighth of the conservation royalties raised by certain new offshore drilling to our great outdoors so we could increase our energy supply while leaving more open spaces for future generations. This legislation allows us to replicate the sort of conservation we’ve been able to achieve with the Chattanooga park all across America, while helping to reign in gas prices.”
As a long time conservationist and member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Alexander was an original cosponsor of S. 3711, the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006, which became law in December 2006. This legislation took 12.5 percent of royalties received as a consequence of producing oil and natural gas on the Outer Continental Shelf and sent them to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Since then, Congress has appropriated these funds for local projects.
Congress established the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in 1964 to meet America's needs for outdoor recreation opportunities, wildlife habitat conservation and open space. During its first 40 years, LWCF provided more than 40,000 grants to state and local governments, and LWCF sites can be found in 94 percent of America’s counties.
Alexander today participated in an event to celebrate the conservation of almost four hundred acres of Lookout Mountain battlefield lands as part of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, which has received funding from LWCF. He also joined U.S. Representative Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), USDA Rural Development State Director Mary Ruth Tackett, Mayor Herbert Hood, local leaders, and students from Copper Basin Elementary School to announce a federal investment of $800,000 to complete funding for a new safe, reliable wastewater treatment system for families and businesses in Copperhill and southeast Polk County in Tennessee. The celebration included an Earth Day tree-planting.
“Egypt has the pyramids, Italy has its art, and the United States has the Great American Outdoors,” Alexander said. “I grew up surrounded by the beauty of our outdoors in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Future generations won’t be as lucky, however, if we don’t take action to preserve our wilderness. Conserving our natural resources must be a priority if we want to ensure that the Great American Outdoors is still there for our children and grandchildren.”
As a U.S. senator, Alexander has fought for clean air initiatives, full funding for the LWCF, solar energy tax credits, and increased funding for the National Park System.
He received the National Parks Conservation Association’s William Penn Mott Award, an award “presented annually to a public official who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the protection of America’s natural and cultural heritage.”
In the mid-1980s, Alexander served as chairman of President Reagan’s Commission on the American Outdoors, which recommended a permanent conservation royalty.