Trump Signs Great American Outdoors Act Into Law
The Great American Outdoors Act is now the law of the land.
"You cannot overstate the importance of this bill and what it will mean for national parks, public lands and communities across the country," National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) President and CEO Theresa Pierno said when it passed the House in July. "This is the largest investment our country has made in our national parks and public lands in more than 50 years, and it comes not a moment too soon."
🚨Breaking News: The President has just signed the bipartisan #GreatAmericanOutdoorsAct. It will help: 🏗️ Restore… https://t.co/RPefKPMn7S— Fix Our Parks (@Fix Our Parks)1596554165.0
The bill is important because it secured permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for $900 million a year, EcoWatch previously reported. This fund uses oil and gas revenue to finance national parks and historic sites, along with local and state parks and recreation areas. The bill also earmarked $6.5 billion over the next five years to address the maintenance backlog currently burdening the National Park System, NPCA pointed out.
Trump claimed the bill signing as a major environmental legacy for himself and the Republicans.
"From an environmental standpoint and from just the beauty of our country standpoint, there hasn't been anything like this since Teddy Roosevelt, I suspect," he said at the signing ceremony, The New York Times reported. "At some point, they'll have to start thinking about the Republican Party and all of the incredible things we've done on conservation and many other fronts."
Trump's remarks overlook the fact that his administration is the only one in history to strip more protections from public lands than it added, the Center for American Progress calculated in May. In fact, the administration has tried to gut protections for 35 million acres, an area roughly the size of Florida. Trump has also moved to roll back 100 environmental rules since taking office, according to a New York Times tracker.
Trump undercut his own conservation bonafides Tuesday when he mispronounced California's famous Yosemite National Park as "Yo-Semites" twice in his speech.
"When young Americans experience the breathtaking beauty of the Grand Canyon, when their eyes widen in amazement as Old Faithful bursts into the sky, when they gaze upon yo-Semites, yo-Semites, towering sequoias, their love of country grows stronger, and they know that every American has truly a duty to preserve this wondrous inheritance," Trump said, according to Business Insider.
The park is one of the most frequented tourist destinations in the U.S. and welcomed 4.5 million people in 2019. However, the lead official at the park's visitors center told The Fresno Bee that Trump's mistake was not uncommon.
"We hear it all the time, especially from East Coasters for some reason," CEO of Visit Yosemite Madera County Rhonda Salisbury said. "I'm always shocked that people don't know how to say Yosemite. I think foreign visitors know how to say it correctly more than American visitors."
Trump's signing ceremony also obscured the bipartisan origin of the new law. Only Republicans were present, and Trump did not mention any Democrats during his speech, The New York Times reported.
In fact, the bill was introduced last year by Civil Rights icon and Georgia Democratic Representative John Lewis, who passed away in July. Trump made no mention of this.
He did credit the man who introduced it in the Senate, Colorado Republican Cory Gardner. Gardner is one of two Republicans who Trump said convinced him to sign the measure. Trump had previously wanted to cut funding for the LWCF by almost 97 percent, according to The Hill. But a more than hour-long meeting with Gardner and Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) persuaded him otherwise.
Gardner told reporters in June how he and Daines persuaded the president.
"I showed him a picture of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and I think Steve showed a picture as well and he looked at the park and said 'it's beautiful' and we pointed up at the picture of Teddy Roosevelt on the wall and said this could be the biggest accomplishment going back to Teddy Roosevelt," Gardner said in The Hill article.
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From Greta Thunberg to Sir David Attenborough, the headline-grabbing climate change activists and environmentalists of today are predominantly white. But like many areas of society, those whose voices are heard most often are not necessarily representative of the whole.
1. Wangari Maathai<p>In 2004, Professor Maathai made history as the <a href="https://www.nobelpeaceprize.org/Prize-winners/Prizewinner-documentation/Wangari-Maathai" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize</a> for her dedication to sustainable development, democracy and peace. She started the <a href="http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Green Belt Movement</a>, a community-based tree planting initiative that aims to reduce poverty and encourage conservation, in 1977. More than 51 million trees have been planted helping build climate resilience and empower communities, especially women and girls. Her environmental work is celebrated every year on <a href="http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/node/955" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Wangari Maathai Day on 3 March</a>.</p>
2. Robert Bullard<p>Known as the 'father of environmental justice,' Dr Bullard has <a href="https://www.unep.org/championsofearth/laureates/2020/robert-bullard" target="_blank">campaigned against harmful waste</a> being dumped in predominantly Black neighborhoods in the southern states of the U.S. since the 1970s. His first book, Dumping in Dixie, highlighted the link between systemic racism and environmental oppression, showing how the descendants of slaves were exposed to higher-than-average levels of pollutants. In 1994, his work led to the signing of the <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/albert-huang/20th-anniversary-president-clintons-executive-order-12898-environmental-justice" target="_blank">Executive Order on Environmental Justice</a>, which the <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/27/executive-order-on-tackling-the-climate-crisis-at-home-and-abroad/" target="_blank">Biden administration is building on</a>.<br></p>
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Pollution has a race problem. Elizabethwarren.com
3. John Francis<p>Helping the clean-up operation after an oil spill in San Francisco Bay in January 1971 inspired Francis to <a href="https://planetwalk.org/about-john/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stop taking motorized transport</a>. Instead, for 22 years, he walked everywhere. He also took a vow of silence that lasted 17 years, so he could listen to others. He has walked the width of the U.S. and sailed and walked through South America, earning the nickname "Planetwalker," and raising awareness of how interconnected people are with the environment.</p>
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4. Dr. Warren Washington<p>A meteorology and climate pioneer, Dr. Washington was one of the first people to develop atmospheric computer models in the 1960s, which have helped scientists understand climate change. These models now also incorporate the oceans and sea ice, surface water and vegetation. In 2007, the <a href="https://www.cgd.ucar.edu/pcm/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Parallel Climate Model (PCM)</a> and <a href="https://www.cesm.ucar.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Community Earth System Model (CESM)</a>, earned Dr. Washington and his colleagues the <a href="https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/2007/summary/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Nobel Peace Prize</a>, as part of the <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change</a>.</p>
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5. Angelou Ezeilo<p>Huge trees and hikes to pick berries during her childhood in upstate New York inspired Ezeilo to become an environmentalist and set up the <a href="https://gyfoundation.org/staff/Angelou-Ezeilo" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Greening Youth Foundation</a>, to educate future generations about the importance of preservation. Through its schools program and Youth Conservation Corps, the social enterprise provides access to nature to disadvantaged children and young people in the U.S. and West Africa. In 2019, Ezeilo published her book <em>Engage, Connect, Protect: Empowering Diverse Youth as Environmental Leaders</em>, co-written by her Pulitzer Prize-winning brother Nick Chiles.</p>
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