Demonstrating yet again that they are nothing more than whores for Big Oil, the GOP members of Congress are preparing to eliminate a statute that requires oil and gas companies to pay royalties for offshore drilling.

Nearly half a century ago, Congress passed Public Law 88-578, under which oil and gas companies were obligated to pay a “conservation royalty” in exchange for drilling in US waters.  These royalties are used for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCL), protecting parks, national historic sites and other public parks and monuments. It helps in the maintenance and protection of national treasures such as the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park – at no cost to the taxpayer.

In light of what Their Royal Highnesses, David and Charles Koch would like to see done, it should come as no surprise that GOP legislators want to kill off the LWCL altogether. Nor should we be shocked to learn that Big Oil is bribing them to the tune of $750 million.

More accurately, the GOP wants to allow the fund to die. This will happen at the end of September if Congress fails to renew the program. It will open the door to allowing the sale of our national parks and monuments to Kings Charles and David Koch and their ilk. Worse, it could open up these lands to drilling. It will lead to the corporatization and commodification of yet one more public institution that by rights belongs to all of us together and none of us alone.

As of this writing, we have just a little over two months to pressure lawmakers into keeping the fund going. There are two things that everyone can do to help save our collective heritage. First, sign the petition at Secondly, call 202-224-3121, ask for your Representative by name, and tell the staffer in no uncertain terms that allowing the Land and Water Conservation Fund to expire is UNACCEPTABLE – and if that Representative allows Big Oil’s money to drown out your voice, you and other constituents will make it your holy mission to see them unemployed come January 2017.

K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.