NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Conservation And Reinvestment Act (CARA)

May 12, 2000

Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 701, the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA), whichauthorizes placing more than $42 billion of Outer Continental Shelf oil royalties into an off-budget trust fund over the next 15 years.

If the bill passes the Senate, a majority of all federal spending would be "off-budget," says the Heritage Foundation:

  • Between fiscal years 1989 and 1997, outlays for the federal trust funds increased from 33 percent of total federal spending to 46 percent of federal spending
  • Taking the Conservation and Reinvestment Act Trust Fund off-budget would increase to 65 percent, or $1.1 trillion, the portion of the federal budget that is off-limits to congressional appropriators.

CARA would give matching grants to the states and special-interest groups to purchase land for wildlife protection and urban recreation -- in other words, says Heritage, it is "a pork-filled land grab by federal and state land management and recreation agencies."

  • CARA would require additional state spending, since the states must continue their previous level of funding for such efforts and match the trust fund grants.
  • Unlike many of the programs it would replace, CARA funds would not be disbursed to a state without the Secretary of the Interior's review and approval of state plans.
  • Thus the Interior Department will have a veto over state spending and can use that leverage to redirect state programs to conform to the priorities of the federal government.

Source: Gregg VanHelmond and Angela Antonelli, "Why CARA is Fiscally Irresponsible and a Threat to Local Land Use Decisions," Backgrounder No. 1370, May 9, 2000, Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E., Washington D.C. 20002, (202) 546-4400.


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