Tipton tries to steer $5 million from EPA to public lands

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton earned cheers from some outdoor sporting groups and jeers from environmentalists last week for his part in House Republican amendments to the Interior Department Appropriations Act of 2012.

Tipton and several other Republicans got preliminary congressional approval of several amendments to restore $25 million to the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is used to purchase land or obtain easements for outdoor recreational purposes, such as hunting and fishing.

The program, created in 1964, primarily is funded from federal royalty payments from off-shore oil and gas leases.

In recent years, however, Congress has diverted some of those royalty payments to other programs, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Tipton’s amendment redirects $5 million that was to go to the EPA.

“The amendment redirects funds to much-needed conservation programs that are used to provide access for the American people to our public lands, and will help support jobs in the recreational and sportsmen industries,” said Josh Green, Tipton’s press secretary.

“This redirected funding will be used for projects that clearly and specifically improve access for hunting, fishing and other forms of outdoor recreation on federal public lands. In essence, the redirected $5 million will be used to make public lands public.”

Several sporting groups, including the Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance, the Mule Deer Foundation and the Colorado Bow Hunters Association were so pleased with Tipton’s amendment, they published a half-page advertisement in some Colorado newspapers thanking him.

Several Colorado environmental groups, however, were far from thankful.

They said the amendment along with the others, and even some provisions in the bill itself, are a direct attack on the environment.

“The House appropriations bill is of extreme concern to the environmental community, and it should be of concern to people interested in public lands, clean air and clean water all around Colorado,” said Gary Wockner, head of the Colorado office of Clean Water Action. “It’s going to gut funding for the Clean Air Act, for the Clean Water Act, to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, national parks and major cuts to the EPA.”

Wockner said if House Republicans are looking for ways to cut debt spending, they’d best look to cutting billions of dollars in subsidies to oil and gas companies.

The House is to vote on the measure again in the fall.


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