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Budget Deal Funds LCHIP, Raids Renewable Energy Fund

A big priority for environmental groups – The Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, or LCHIP – has survived through budget negotiations. But that win comes at the expense of a raid on funds set aside for renewable energy development.

Under the budget deal struck today LCHIP was allotted the full $8 million dollars that it’s expected to raise. The program uses funds raised from fees tacked on certain real-estate transactions to pay for land conservation grants.

The LCHIP money has been a frequent target for lawmakers hoping to balance budgets. “Since the establishment of the dedicated fund, more money has been taken for the general fund than has gone for the intended purpose of doing land and historic preservation,” says Jim O’Brien with the Nature Conservancy, one of the environmental groups that has pushed hard for a restoration of the dedicated conservation dollars.

But while LCHIP seems to have regained its status as a bipartisan rallying point, the proposed budget is balanced in part with money from another pot of environmental dollars. The budget uses money from the renewable energy fund to the tune of $16.1 million dollars.