NPCA submitted the following position to the House Committee on Natural Resources ahead of a markup scheduled for November 8, 2017.
NPCA opposes H.R. 4239: SECURE American Energy Act because if passed, it could lead to damage to national parks and surrounding ecosystems. The bill attempts to make extensive revisions to federal land use policy and weaken long-standing environmental safeguards that protect parks from the harmful side effects of oil and gas development. Coastal national parks could be threatened if new areas in the Atlantic Ocean are opened for drilling development. Our parks and their resources deserve to be preserved and protected for future generations and this bill would put our parks at risk.
In addition to NPCA’s opposition to the underlying bill, we urge you to consider the following positions on a number of proposed amendments.
Grijalva 005: One of the greatest threats to our national parks is our changing climate. From diminished glaciers at Glacier National Park, to eroding cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde, to fiercer fires in Yosemite, our national parks are ground zero for climate impacts. Robust scientific evidence suggests a warming climate is a product of anthropogenic activities; therefore, this amendment addresses the need for neutral emissions from development activities in the face of an ever-changing climate with increasingly threatening consequences. NPCA supports this amendment.
McEachin 008: NPCA supports this amendment to remove section 104 that would eliminate presidential authority to withdraw areas of the Outer Continental Shelf from oil and gas leasing (except for those areas within national marine sanctuaries), revoke existing withdrawals not in existing sanctuaries or monuments and eliminate presidential authority to establish marine national monuments. Expanded offshore oil and natural gas drilling threatens our coastal national parks and jeopardizes the future of marine sanctuaries critical to the health of our parks. Additionally, nearly every president since 1906 (eight republicans and eight democrats) used the Antiquities Act as a bipartisan conservation tool to protect our nation’s history and culture. This amendment supports the use of this important preservation tool for future presidents.
Beyer 010: NPCA supports this amendment that strikes section 110 which sets arbitrary deadlines and constraints on permits related to marine mammal safety. Marine mammals such as whales and dolphins are beloved residents of the waters off coastal national parks and care should be taken to ensure the safety of these creatures.
Grijalva 012: The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is an important program to buy private land from willing sellers inside national park boundaries to ensure conservation and prevent incompatible development. This invaluable program, which enjoys wide bipartisan support within Congress and the American public among diverse constituencies, deserves long-term support. This amendment ensures both reliability and consistency for the program and should be supported.
Beyer 013: NPCA supports this amendment to require capturing and prevent venting methane on federal lands. Methane is the primary component of natural gas and can trap 84 times as much heat as carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. When methane is released into the atmosphere, it speeds climate change and harms national park air quality as it mixes with other pollutants like volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides to form unhealthy smog. Oil and gas companies operating on federal and tribal lands alone are wasting an estimated $330 million nationwide each year through leaks, venting and flaring.
Lowenthal 035: NPCA supports this amendment to require annual accounting of approved drilling plans. The Bureau of Land Management is rapidly moving to lease large new areas for oil and gas development, even right next to parks such as Zion National Park, Dinosaur National Monument and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. These leases are moving forward despite a large number of ready-to-drill leases sitting idle. The public deserves an accurate accounting of approved drilling leases to help inform more leasing in national park landscapes.
Lowenthal 036: Climate change threatens the entire national park system, and the public deserves accurate information about how energy produced from federal lands may contribute to the problem. NCPA supports this amendment to establish a federal energy reporting requirement to help the public learn about climate impacts from federal energy development.
Pearce 046: The American public should not be unduly limited in their ability to challenge public land use decisions that may impact national parks, including the issuance of oil and gas leases. NPCA opposes this amendment to set arbitrary deadlines on the BLM as it responds to administrative challenges to public land lease sales, sharply limiting an important tool for appeal.
Soto 075: NPCA supports this amendment to extend the leasing moratorium in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. This moratorium protects national parks in Florida like Gulf Islands National Seashore and Dry Tortugas National Park, as well as their water and wildlife, from the impacts of oil and gas development.
For More Information
Former Senior Manager, Landscape Conservation Program