Preservation Action: Historic Preservation Fund Part II

In a follow-up question regarding the federal Historic Preservation Fund, Preservation Action members were asked: What is the source of funding for the HPF? The answer will probably surprise you:

Preparations for the nation’s bicentennial prompted a heightened sense of national pride in the 1970s. This swell of activity promoted a desire to preserve our nation’s heritage and its buildings. That enthusiasm was tempered, however, by high unemployment rates, a struggling economy, energy shortages and a resulting desire for energy independence. Lawmakers were eager to make energy more available and looked to Great Britain as an example and its offshore drilling activities in the North Sea. The HPF receives its annual deposit from off shore oil lease reserves.

Off-shore drilling funds our national preservation program?

Here is the justification: Federal lands include those on the outer continental shelf and oil companies pay for the right to drill for oil on those lands off the coast of the United States. The exploitation of one valuable resource supports investment in another. This is the thrust of the HPF – and also the Land and Water Conservation Fund after which the HPF was modeled. The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by the Land and Water Conservation Act of 1965 (PL 88-578). A share of proceeds from the consumption of one non-renewable natural resource (oil) is reinvested in our man-made historic and cultural resources.

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