Press Release Mar 20, 2020

Environmental Groups Urge Administration to Pause Open Public Comment Periods, Respect Democratic Process

Now is not the time for the administration to rush to decisions without the opportunity for full public engagement.

Washington, DC – Today, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and 14 environmental organizations sent a letter to the Department of Interior and Environmental Protection Agency urging these federal agencies to pause all open public comment periods on active rulemaking and non-rulemaking notices while Americans continue to deal with the ongoing global pandemic.

Regulations.gov, one of the primary federal government websites that allows members of the public to participate in rulemaking processes, currently lists 90 open comment periods on rulemakings and more than 70 open comment periods on non-rulemaking notices for the two agencies. From shooting fireworks over Mount Rushmore National Memorial to new border wall construction at Coronado National Memorial and limiting the available science in the federal decision-making process, these proposals could have detrimental, long-term impacts on our national parks and public lands.

This global pandemic is upending so many lives and impairing the public’s ability to conduct their normal day-to-day routines. As a result, there will be significant impacts to the public’s participation in our federal rulemaking process. NPCA is urging the administration to consider the limited engagement of the public right now in some of our nation’s most important natural and cultural resource decisions and projects, and therefore pause all open comment periods until the nation’s health crisis has stabilized.

Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association:

“Millions of Americans’ lives are being upended by this public health crisis, and from all we’ve been told it will only get worse. Now is not the time for the administration to rush to decisions, without the opportunity for full public engagement, on issues that could have enormous consequences on public lands and their surrounding communities.

“The administration must suspend ongoing public comment periods during this time and refrain from making any final decisions that could have long-term ramifications on our public lands and communities. Allowing these comment periods to continue completely flies in the face of our democratic processes and why these comment periods were created in the first place – to give the public a voice in how their lands are managed.”

###

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 nearly 1.4 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.