Policy Update Feb 27, 2020

Position on H.R. 3681, H.R. 4236 and H.R. 4512

NPCA submitted the following positions to members of the U.S. Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands ahead of a legislative markup scheduled for Feb. 27th, 2020. 

H.R. 3681 - Green Spaces, Green Vehicles Act of 2019: NPCA supports this bill to facilitate the thoughtful installation of zero-emissions vehicle infrastructure and use of zero-emissions vehicle fleets, including shuttles, by the National Park Service and US Forest Service. According to the National Park Service’s Green Parks Plan published in 2016, 30% of annual greenhouse gas emissions from national park operations comes from transportation. However, installing more energy efficient infrastructure is extremely difficult to do without supplemental funding, traffic studies and partnerships. Given the staffing constraints and funding shortfalls NPS faces, NPCA recognizes that the agency cannot achieve these goals on its own. This bill not only facilitates the installation of zero-emission vehicle infrastructure on our public lands, but it creates a platform to grow partnerships and involve electric vehicle experts who can assist the federal land management agencies in successfully rolling out the program.

Our national parks and forests should be leaders in helping to reduce our country’s emissions and addressing the global climate crisis that threatens both communities and ecosystems. However, we continue to be concerned with new initiatives without additional federal funding for the financially strapped federal land management agencies. If passed, we will work with Congressman Levin and other members to secure the $50 million from the Appropriations Committee to implement this initiative.

H.R. 4236 - Reducing Waste in National Parks Act: NPCA supports this legislation to improve sustainability at national parks by encouraging recycling and reducing single-use plastic water bottles. America’s national parks are suffering from plastic pollution—ranging from large debris to microplastics derived from synthetic materials. Plastic pollution kills countless birds and sea animals, negatively impacts water quality and coral reefs and increasingly shows up in our food chain. Single-use plastics are especially detrimental because they are too-often not recycled and end up in landfills, landscapes and waterways where they do not degrade. One plastic water bottle will remain in a landfill for 450 years or longer. This legislation aims to improve recycling and reduction or elimination of the sale of single-use water bottles at interested national park units after consideration of factors like refill stations, cost and availability of water and refill containers, public health, educational information and concessionaire impacts. The legislation also calls for a proactive visitor education strategy, which NPCA recognizes as a foundational element to improve recycling and encourage the use of refillable water bottles and refill stations, while raising awareness about the negative impacts of plastic pollution to encourage proper stewardship.

H.R. 4512 - Outdoors for All Act: NPCA supports this bill to provide dedicated funding to the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership at the National Park Service. The Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) is a nationally competitive matching grant program for communities to acquire land and water for parks or recreation purposes or develop new or renovate existing outdoor recreation facilities. Priority is given to urban areas that engage and empower underserved communities.

Since OLRP’s start six years ago, nearly $30 million in federal grants were matched 1:1 by private and non-federal entities to provide benefits to 40 communities in 28 states. For example, projects recently completed include the acquisition and construction of a railroad trail connecting low and moderate-income communities with the riverfront and downtown business district in Fort Smith City, Arkansas and the development of a new recreation park on 13 acres of donated land in Hall County, Georgia. The Outdoors for All Act would ensure this program continues to support acquisition and renovations projects throughout the country to connect people of all ages and demographics with the outdoors.