Policy Update May 24, 2016

Position on Fiscal Year 2017 Energy and Water Appropriations (House Version)

NPCA submitted the following position to members of the House of Representatives in support of funding in the Fiscal Year 2017 Energy and Water appropriations bill for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) ecosystem restoration priorities that benefit national parks.

Everglades restoration

NPCA supports the Everglades restoration funding of $106 million for construction for South Florida Ecosystem Restoration, as recommended in the President’s budget. This funding advances key Everglades restoration projects under the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), such as Picayune Strand Restoration, Indian River Lagoon-South, Caloosahatchee C-43 Reservoir and other projects for the benefit of the national parks in South Florida. In addition to CERP projects, there are important non-CERP projects that are very close to completion that this funding will advance, such as Kissimmee River Restoration and C-111 South Dade projects.

Asian carp prevention

NPCA also supports the funding provided to stop Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes. The bill matches the President’s budget request of $2.6 million for the feasibility study at Brandon Road Lock and Dam and $12 million for operations and maintenance of the electronic dispersal barrier system in the Chicago Waterway System. These are two key components of a more comprehensive monitoring and control plan that is keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. More must be done, however, including the development of a system of additional control points that stop Asian carp from swimming into Lake Michigan.

NPCA also asks members to oppose provisions and potential amendments that block protections of our national park waters.

National Oceans Policy

NPCA opposes Sec. 506, which undermines the implementation of the National Ocean Policy. NOP is sound policy that reduces duplicative efforts and conflicting government actions and improves the way we manage our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes. Ten percent of all U.S. shorelines are managed by the National Park Service, and include places as diverse as lakeshores, kelp forests, wetlands, beaches, estuaries and coral reefs. These park sites depend on healthy and resilient ocean and coastal ecosystems which could be harmed if federal agencies were unable to properly plan and coordinate on ocean and Great Lakes policy.

Clean water protections

We also oppose provisions in and potential amendments to the Energy and Water appropriations bill that block clean water protections. First, NPCA opposes Sec. 108 that would restrict USACE from using funds to develop, adopt, implement, administer or enforce any change to regulations pertaining to the definitions of the terms “fill material” or “discharge of fill material” under the Clean Water Act. A 2002 rulemaking by EPA and USACE altered the definition of “fill material” under the Clean Water Act and these changes cleared the way for industrial mining operations to obtain permits to dump destructive mining waste in streams and rivers. This provision continues these industry loopholes leaving many of our nation’s waterways vulnerable to harmful pollution, which threatens human health.

NPCA also opposes Sec. 110, which blocks efforts to protect our national park waters through implementing the Clean Water Rule finalized last year. The EPA and USACE finalized a rule providing much needed clarity to which waters of the United States will be covered by federal law. For years the Clean Water Act protected all wetlands and tributaries in and around national parks. However, 2001 and 2006 Supreme Court rulings and subsequent agency guidance have created a confusing, time-consuming, and frustrating process for determining what waters are protected under the Clean Water Act and state laws.