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.


Browse more articles on Environment Issues