NPCA submitted the following position to the U.S. Senate ahead of expected floor debate and votes the week of July 23, 2018.
NPCA encourages senators to increase funding for the National Park Service and exclude anti-environmental riders from the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill when it comes to the Senate floor.
While we have deep concerns about policy riders, we also ask for consideration of our views on funding levels for the National Park Service (NPS). We certainly recognize the funding constraints within the Interior 302(b) allocations and respectfully ask you to consider including the funding level for NPS Operations from H.R. 6147 at $3.255 billion, an increase of $53 million, or 1.7 percent over FY18. We are disappointed in the Senate’s cut to the Historic Preservation Fund, and particularly concerned about the cut in both the House and Senate bills to the federal portion of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Federal LWCF funds are critical to the protection of Park Service sites from incompatible residential and commercial development. We hope you will consider restoring funding to each of these important programs.
Additionally, I wanted to provide our views on many bad policies included in H.R. 6147, the House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The bill includes national park-damaging policy provisions and I urge you to not include them in the Senate’s bill.
- Section 117: Legislatively removes federal protections for gray wolves in the lower 48 states, an action that NPCA opposes as it bypasses the Endangered Species Act delisting process and would impact wolves in national parks across the country.
- Section 431: Repeals the Clean Water Rule which works to protect waterways that flow in and through our national parks.
- Section 438: Unnecessarily disallows funds to be used to support reintroduction of grizzlies into North Cascades National Park—an effort supported by both the Obama and Trump administrations and years of constituent engagement and the region’s best available science.
- Section 440: Prohibits funding to support the conservation of the marbled murrelet, an iconic bird species in the Pacific Northwest, that resides not only in some of the lushest national forests in the region, but also within parks like Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks.
- Section 458: Undermines the EPA’s methane rules that represent a bold step forward toward reducing methane pollution that impairs our air, lands, water, and wildlife, all of which must remain healthy to sustain America’s national parks. The accidental release of methane from oil and gas production drives climate change, changing park ecosystems and threatening the resources protected by the parks.
- Section 462: Leaves many endangered and threatened species in an uncertain state of protection if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fails to meet its obligation to complete a 5-year review of the species’ status as required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Species would retain their ESA status, but all federal funding for recovery efforts, law enforcement efforts, and consultations would be blocked.
- Section 463: Limits the EPA’s key authority to protect clean water in the 64,000 square mile Chesapeake Bay watershed which spans six states and the District of Columbia. This authority is critical to ensure full Clean Water Act protections for over 18 million residents and to the success of the historic federal-state collaboration to restore the Chesapeake Bay.
- Section 465: Prevents the payment of attorney’s fees as part of any settlement the Federal Government enters into under the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. Congress included citizen suit provisions in these bedrock environmental laws to ensure enforcement of critical public health and environmental protections, when agencies failed to act.
For the health and preservation of America’s national treasures, the environment and climate on which they rely, and the long-term protection of resources, we urge you to increase funding for national parks and their surrounding landscapes and vote against any amendments which add anti-environmental riders to the bill.
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Former Deputy Vice President, Government Affairs