Press Release Jul 1, 2020

Administration’s Aggressive Environmental Rollbacks Are Putting National Parks in Peril

The impacts of the administration’s actions to the health of our national parks and communities, the air we breathe, and the water we drink could be irreparable.

Washington, DC – For more than three years, the Trump administration has taken aim at policies that protect our national parks, wildlife, clean air and water, and climate. And they show no signs of slowing down, even as our country is consumed by a global health pandemic. The damage to our national parks could be catastrophic, which is why the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and our 1.4 million members and supporters continue to fight back. Today, NPCA launched a new initiative, “Parks in Peril,” aimed at protecting America’s national parks from imminent threats within and outside of their borders.

“Sea level rise and storm surges are destroying the Everglades, air pollution is wreaking havoc on Big Bend, and rampant oil and gas development on Great Basin’s borders are scarring the landscape and threatening wildlife. Some of our most beloved national parks are reaching a breaking point. And this administration is only making matters worse,” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for the National Parks Conservation Association. “Despite being in the midst of a global health crisis, the administration is forging ahead with damaging environmental rollbacks and scaling back enforcement activities, all while cutting opportunities for the public to have a voice in the decisions that affect them. The impacts of the administration’s actions to the health of our national parks and communities, the air we breathe, and the water we drink could be irreparable.”

Since taking office, the current administration has worked to systematically undermine the laws that protect our public lands, the agencies that manage them and the resources these places protect. They dismantled the National Environmental Policy Act, the law that gives people a voice in determining how public lands, that belong to all of us, are used. And they gutted the Clean Water Rule and the Endangered Species Act, safeguards critical to protecting human health and our environment. This administration has gone to great lengths to support industry interests, even at the expense of our public lands and environment.

“As long as the administration continues to rush decisions and silence the public’s voice, NPCA will continue to fight for the health and protection of our national parks and communities. And we urge everyone who cares for our parks and all they protect to join us and speak up. Otherwise, these places that define and unite us as a nation could soon be beyond saving,” said Pierno.

Until now, it was hard to imagine a mining road cutting through one of our nation’s most prized viewsheds, Yellowstone without grizzly bears and Great Smoky Mountains without park rangers. NPCA’s “Parks in Peril” initiative highlights what could be left of America’s national parks if we don’t take swift action to prevent further damage to them:

  • Building a wall, destroying a park: Border wall construction at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument has already resulted in workers bulldozing 100-year-old saguaro cacti and clearing land directly above Native American graves. Coronado National Memorial could soon be in the same position, as new construction was proposed by the administration in March 2020.
  • Ignoring a changing climate: Some of our parks’ plants and animals are on the brink of extinction, while their glaciers melt, beaches erode and historic structures crumble. But the administration continues to prioritize the interests of polluters, who are driving the crises.
  • Endangering park wildlife: The administration has finalized new rules that change how the Endangered Species Act is implemented on the ground, gutting critical protections for threatened species that call our national parks home.
  • Erasing clean air safeguards: Ninety-six percent of our more than 400 national park sites are plagued by air pollution problems. But the administration continues to weaken invaluable clean air laws, allowing coal plants and other polluters to foul the air we breathe.
  • Silencing public voices: The administration is attempting to gut a 50-year-old law that has protected America’s public health, lands and cultural resources, and given people a voice in how their public lands are used.
  • Cutting park funding: Park rangers protect our most incredible landscapes and cultural sites and keep them in good condition for future generations to experience and enjoy. Yet, the administration has repeatedly called for massive cuts to national park funding, which would result in fewer park rangers to defend these places.
  • Fast tracking oil and gas drilling: Nearly 24.5 million acres of public land — an area larger than the state of Indiana – have been offered for oil and gas leasing since the administration took office. And they continue to put tens of thousands of acres on the table across the West, selling some for as little as $2 an acre.
  • Paving the way for mining: The state of Alaska is pushing forward with permitting for a private industrial mining access road through Gates of the Arctic National Preserve – and the administration is paving the way for continued planning, permitting and eventual construction.
  • Eliminating clean water protection: The administration’s clean water rollbacks have eliminated protections for more than half of America’s wetlands, rivers and streams, threatening wildlife in our national parks and drinking water for millions of people across the country.

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About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) 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.