A bill introduced into the Nebraska legislature would change how conservation groups handle money related to the environmental trust.
Those funds are used to help pay for conservation and land reclamation projects.
The bill’s author, Senator Tyson Larson of O’Neill says those trust funds can be misused.
“Right now, a lot of groups or an individual may be able to get a grant from the environmental trust and they have to restore the land — and they do,” Larson says. “But what’s happening is, a lot of groups are then turning over and selling that land after they’ve fulfilled the grant and they pocket the cash.”
In some cases, he says, it could be a million dollars.
Larson says his bill (LB 857) would require that money to be part of a revolving fund.
“Whatever they were given by the state, they should have to turn that back to the state and be put into the water resources cash fund,” Larson says. “We need ways to solve our water issue problems. We need $100-million by 2020 to make sure we stay in compliance with the Platte River Water Compact and we’ve only funded about 30-million of it.”
Larson says he thinks his legislation would provide the easiest avenue for the state to fund its water obligations. He says it’s fair and won’t involve raising taxes.
Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton