Press Release Mar 28, 2017

Interior to Review National Park Drilling Rule

Executive order could roll back protections from oil, gas drilling within parks.

WASHINGTON – In a direct attack on national parks, Trump’s executive order on climate and energy requires the Department of the Interior to review rules for oil and gas drilling inside national park units.

Known as the National Park Service 9B Rules, these commonsense guidelines establish safety and enforcement standards for oil and gas drilling in more than 40 national parks, including Everglades, Cuyahoga Valley and Mesa Verde.

The National Park Service worked for over a decade to finalize balanced rules to protect national park air, water, wildlife and park visitors from energy exploration to access privately owned oil, gas and minerals underground. President Trump’s ordered review and possible repeal of these guidelines presents a clear threat to the National Park Service’s mandate to leave parks “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

Below is a statement by Nicholas Lund, Senior Manager for Landscape Conservation at the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA):

“It’s inconceivable to us that President Trump would take aim at these balanced rules for oil and gas drilling in national parks. These commonsense rules do not prohibit development but simply ensure that national parks continue to receive the highest possible level of protection. We hope Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who is now tasked with reviewing the 9B rules, recognizes how important they are to the health of our national parks and their visitors and leaves these important measures in place.”

To read NPCA’s analysis of the President’s executive order and its impact on national parks, click here.

Background

In some national parks, the federal government owns the surface lands and private companies own some of the mineral rights below the surface. This situation is called a “split estate,” and it presents a potential for conflict when a private company exercises its rights to extract minerals while the Park Service tries to uphold its legal mandate to leave parks “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

There are currently 534 active oil and gas wells across 12 units of the National Park System. There are 30 additional national parks with some “split estate” lands, but no active drilling at this point. A full list of all national park units affected by 9B rules can be found here.

To help find the appropriate balance between national park protection and private rights, the Park Service created the “9B” rules in 1978 to set forth standards that limit the harm to parks. But as drilling technologies evolved and the Park Service gained a better understanding of how to protect park resources, those 1978 rules became inadequate. The Park Service began updating them in 2009. The updates went into effect in 2016 after a seven-year process.

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About National Parks Conservation Association

Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.2 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historic, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.