Washington State Congressman Supports Drilling in National Parks

If Republicans have their way, drilling could become commonplace in over 40 National Parks around the country.  Known as H.J. Res. 46, the bill seeks to undue the rules and regulations set up in 1978 to protect National Parks under a series of rules known as 9B. Currently, there are over forty National Parks that have a “split estate” ownership, where the federal government owns the surface of the region, but not the underground mineral rights. That can all change on Friday, February 3rd, if Congress pushes this through. 

The wording of the H.J. Res. 46 is pretty innocuous at first glance, reading: “Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the final rule of the National Park Service relating to “General Provisions and Non-Federal Oil and Gas Rights.”

However, as mentioned earlier, this true meaning of this resolution is to undue protection to National Park lands for the purpose of resource extraction. If approved, the NPS will have no authority over the development of resource extraction on public lands and companies drilling and mining in the 40+ National Parks will have little to no regulations, aside from those at the state level. Any spill, leak or environmental accident could not be punished by the NPS, nor could it be punished by the EPA, as their budget and capability to prosecute issues like this have already been greatly reduced. Not only would spills be unpunished, but the drilling companies aren’t even required to notify the parks or the park visitors how or when the drilling and mining operations may occur.

“Companies would be able to build roads through national parks to begin drilling, such as the 11-mile road through the heart of Big Cypress National Preserve built to reach an oil and gas lease.” ~ NPCA

One of the six elected officials pushing this through is cosponsor Representative Dan Newhouse of Washington State. Representing the 4th Congressional District (covering Yakima, the Tri-cities, Moses Lake and all the way up to the Canadian Border, north of Twisp and Coulee City), Rep. Newhouse is currently supporting a whole list of anti-public lands measures. Numerous calls over the past few days to his offices in both D.C. and Yakima went unanswered. You can try your luck at contacting him at his Yakima office here. I also suggest you contact your own congressperson, as well.

According to the National Parks Conservation Association, “There are more than 40 national parks where the federal government does not own the mineral rights below the surface, including Cuyahoga Valley NP in Ohio, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.”

Looking at the last round of visitor data available for those three parks listed above, over 3,000,000 visitors would be impacted with the drilling taking place in the parks. The drilling is largely unnecessary, as oil companies in America and abroad are raking in record profits in already existing drilling locations. To take this resolution as anything other than an attack on our National Parks and environment is short-sighted and naive. Why would anyone be ok with seeing an oil drill in the middle of what is supposed to be pristine, untouched and protect lands?

The List of NPS Land Where Drilling May Occur

The list of National Parks that might soon see oil drills.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

We need to make sure is that Congress knows that we do not agree with their insider deals with large corporations in the hopes of stripping away our public lands. Currently, H.J. Res. 46 has been sent to the House Committee on Natural Resources. If the idea of drilling in National Parks concerns you, we ask that you please contact your representative ASAP.

To call your local Representative, get their info here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/

NEED TO KNOW WHAT TO SAY?

If you are FROM any of the Committee Member’s Districts:

I’m _____, a constituent of Congressman/woman ______. I am calling in regards to HJ Res. 46. The sanctity and beauty in our National Parks around our district and the nation are incredibly important. The loss of environmental protection for these public lands would be devastating for our federal, local and state economies. The Department of the Interior estimates that $16.9 billion is spent in local economies across the country from people visiting public lands, including the National Parks threatened by HJ Res. 46. I urge Congressman/woman ____ to vote against HJ Res. 46 to keep much needed revenue and jobs in our communities.

If you are from OUTSIDE the Committee Member’s Districts:

I am calling Congressman/woman ____ regarding HJ Res. 46. I am concerned about the loss of environmental protection for these public lands in the State of ____. (Optional: [My family and] I have visited _____ (location in state), we very much enjoyed the National Parks that your state had to offer.) I urge your to vote against HJ Res. 46 to ensure your communities and state continue to reap the many benefits of protecting and supporting our National Parks.

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