Bush Conservation Plan, Texas Record Don’t Mix

September 13, 2000

Bush Conservation Plan, Texas Record Don’t Mix

WASHINGTON, DC — Bush’s latest announcement regarding the protection of the nation’s public lands is nothing more than an attempt to distance himself from the poor environmental record he’s amassed on the issue as both governor of Texas and as the Republican presidential candidate, the nonpartisan League of Conservation Voters and the Republican group REP America said today.

“If George W. Bush wants to make good stewardship of the nation’s lands and resources a top priority, he should start at home,” said LCV President Deb Callahan. “Bush clearly understands that the environment is an important issue to voters, but his efforts to show concern for the issue, which flies in the face of his record, won’t win him any points with the electorate.”

While campaigning in Washington state, Bush accused the Clinton administration of neglecting America’s national park system. He pledged, if elected, to work with Congress to appropriate $4.9 billion over the next five years to eliminate the current backlog in national park maintenance. However, according to LCV and REP America, it is Congress, not the president, that controls the purse strings when it comes to national park funding. The Administration has continually requested more funding for Park Service operations and maintenance, yet the Republican-led Congress has consistently failed to appropriate adequate funds for the agency.

“Unfortunately, Governor Bush supports proposals that would permanently harm our precious public lands,” said Jim Scarantino, executive director of REP America, the national grassroots organization for Republicans for Environmental Protection. “He wants oil drilling in sensitive wildlife refuges and opposes protections for national forests. Sadly, his Texas record on public lands stewardship is not reassuring either.”

Texas ranks 49th among the states in the amount of money it spends per capita on parks. In addition, only 3 percent of Texas’s land is publicly owned. During Bush’s term as governor, a 1998 State Auditor’s report found that Texas faced a funding backlog of $186 million for maintenance of existing parks. The report urges the Parks Department to “do a better job of determining where to cut costs” and to develop formal plans to better manage “critical repair needs.” The League of Conservation Voters is the political voice for the national environmental and conservation community. LCV works to elect pro-environment candidates to federal office, and is the only group dedicated full-time to holding federal officials accountable on the environment. Environmental information about all of the presidential candidates can be accessed at the LCV web site at http://www.lcv.org.

REP America, the national grassroots arm of Republicans for Environmental Protection, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public and elected officials about the need to protect the environment and conserve the nation’s wildlands and natural resources. REP America advocates legislation to accomplish those goals while adhering to the basic Republican principles of fiscal responsibility and smaller government. Information about REP America can be accessed at http://www.repamerica.org.