by Michael R. Allen
Yesterday by a vote of 209-193 the United States House of Representatives passed the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act of 2010 (H.R. 3534), sponsored by Representative Nick Rahall (D-WV). The CLEAR Act is important to historic preservation efforts because it included the first-ever full annual appropriation of $150 million to the federal Historic Preservation Fund (HPF), one of the conservation funds funded by offshore oil lease revenues. The HPF and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) have been funded through lease revenues since the 1980s.
The HPF provides federal money available to state and tribal historic preservation offices through matching grants for preservation planning, architectural survey, educational programs and other activities authorized in the Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Certified Local Governments — like St. Louis, Kirkwood and Chesterfield to name a few locals — can apply for funds through state historic preservation offices. The HPF, created in 1976, allows local budgets to stretch.
The U.S. Treasury Department estimated that the balance in funds that can only be appropriated to the HPF at $2.7 billion in Fiscal Year 2009. Previous Congresses have authorized anywhere from one-third to two-thirds of the $150 million annual appropriation that Congress authorized in 1974.