Policy Update Jun 18, 2019

Position on H.R. 205, H.R. 1225, H.R.1941, H.R. 2427 & H.R. 3195

NPCA submitted the following positions to members of the House Committee on Natural Resources ahead of a markup scheduled for June 19, 2019.

H.R. 205 – Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act: NPCA supports this legislation to permanently extend the moratorium on leasing in the eastern portion of the Gulf of Mexico due to concerns of opening new areas to offshore oil drilling while national parks have already been negatively affected in places where drilling currently occurs. The health of the national parks around the Gulf of Mexico is directly linked to the health of the entire Gulf. Within the Gulf of Mexico watershed, there are ten unique national park units, including Everglades National Park, Padre Island and Gulf Islands National Seashore, Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and DeSoto National Memorial. In addition to national parks, there are other protected lands and waters of national significance along the Gulf coast, which include national wildlife refuges, national forests, and marine protected areas. These places are integral to the region’s natural systems and economic and cultural fabric, which are collectively put at risk by offshore oil and gas development.

H.R. 1225 – Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act: NPCA supports this legislation to address the National Park Service’s $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog of crumbling trails, roads, historic buildings, water systems and more. This backlog is largely due to aging infrastructure that has not received the requisite federal funding over the last several decades. H.R. 1225 dedicates up to $1.3 billion annually for five years to public lands infrastructure repairs for a total of $6.5 billion, 80 percent of which is for National Park Service sites. Funds are derived from 50 percent of miscellaneous receipts from current onshore and offshore energy royalties that are not dedicated to other purposes including for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which also warrants dedicated funding.

H.R. 1941 – Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act: NPCA supports this legislation to help protect our Atlantic and Pacific coasts from the potential harm and industrialization of offshore drilling. By permanently removing the Atlantic and Pacific planning areas from future Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Programs, 46 national parks along these coasts, and the local communities they support, will be free from the threat of oil spills and industrialization. Visitors to these parks, including Acadia and Olympic National Parks, Cape Canaveral, Cape Hatteras and Point Reyes National Seashores, supported over 45,000 jobs and generated more than $3.7 billion in economic output in 2017. Not only are these sites destinations for millions of annual visitors, but they also serve as havens for birds, sea turtles, whales and other wildlife. These features and the local economies can thrive with the support of H.R. 1941.

H.R. 2427 – Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Reauthorization Act of 2019: NPCA supports this legislation to reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network through 2025. Although the Chesapeake Bay has almost 11,000 miles of shoreline, less than two percent is open to the public. The Chesapeake Bay Gateways & Watertrails Network is a federal matching grant program that provides critical funding for increased public access to the Chesapeake Bay. Funding covers projects like building boats ramps and piers, youth education programs, and interpretative exhibits that engage community members with the outdoors. The Gateways program allows more people access to get out and enjoy the Chesapeake Bay.

H.R. 3195 – Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act: NPCA supports H.R. 3195 to provide permanent dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). LWCF is a critical conservation program that has, for over fifty years, successfully protected our national parks from incompatible residential and commercial development. Due to the yearly appropriations process for LWCF funds, many land acquisition projects sit idle as development threats continue. Permanent, dedicated funding for LWCF would better guarantee land management agencies have the funding they need to conserve land and ensure public access.