Originally Published by: The Albuquerque Journal
By: U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt
Recently, President Trump’s critics have ramped up their attempts to discredit his administration’s impressive environmental record with bluster and rhetoric untethered from reality. One such example is an opinion piece from Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, who makes numerous erroneous claims about the administration’s records. Here’s the reality of President Trump’s environmental record that is quite different than what you may read and see most days in the media.
It was President Trump that called for Congress to deliver the single largest investment in America’s national parks and conservation in history. The Great American Outdoors Act establishes the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund, providing $9.5 billion for national parks, wildlife refuges, campgrounds, forests and American Indian schools over the next five years, and it permanently and fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million per year, forever. Without his firm action, members of Congress would still be squabbling over how to fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
This law makes needed investments now for the American people in our facilities and infrastructure. It also guarantees future investment in expanded recreation opportunities and conservation of our wildlife and other natural resources through state and federal programs. The undeniable fact is that the previous five administrations failed to get this done for the American people despite attempting similar, less bold, proposals.
President Trump understands the magnificence and splendor of the outdoors and the impact it has on our society. He has called for historic investment in a treasured National Park, the Florida Everglades, saying “We’ll always defend the Everglades, and we will always safeguard the magnificent Florida coastline.” He deeply appreciates the conservation legacy that President Teddy Roosevelt left us over a century ago when he established national parks, bird and game reserves, national forests and national monuments. The president’s success in securing bipartisan support for this historic funding commitment ensures that we are investing in our public resources – the wonders of God’s creation – for millions of more visitors and future generations.
The Great American Outdoors Act signed into law by President Trump built upon his work last year, another truly bipartisan effort, when he signed the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act. This was the single-most important and wide-reaching public lands legislation package since the 1970s – with some 170 separate provisions impacting the country from East to West – including over a million acres of new and expanded wilderness and an additional 274 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers.
Recognizing the significant contributions that hunters and anglers make toward conservation of our fish, wildlife and natural resources, under President Trump’s direction, we have opened up more than 4 million acres to hunting and fishing across the National Wildlife Refuge System.
When it comes to conservation, the Endangered Species Act has protected endangered and threatened species and prevented most of them from becoming extinct. No administration in history has recovered more imperiled species in their first term than the Trump administration at 13 species. This is more than double the number of species delisted between 2009 and 2013. This might seem surprising given all of the propaganda that is lobbed by environmental extremists, but under President Trump, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its other public and private partners have prioritized and been dedicated to conserving and recovering endangered species at a record rate, with even more proposed species delistings before the end of the year.
Lastly, maintaining a healthy and clean environment continues to be a top priority for Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the rest of the federal government under President Trump. America has among the cleanest water in the world, and last year had the largest absolute decline of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions of any country in the world. President Trump signed the Save Our Seas Act, protecting our oceans from waste and pollution, and this year, the Trump administration is investing more than $91 million in the Great Lakes – nearly 30% more than previous funding.
The administration’s impressive record of environmental and conservation achievements prove that conservation is a team sport. There is more that needs to be done, and by working together, we look forward to more opportunities for improvement and more historic “firsts” to be accomplished. Collaboration with the local communities and their businesses, rather than edicts from Washington, D.C., will ensure that both our environment and our economy are vibrant for future generations.