Policy Update Sep 16, 2020

NPCA position on select legislation before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

NPCA shared the following positions ahead of a legislative hearing held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining scheduled for September 16th, 2020.


S. 180 - a bill to streamline the oil and gas permitting process and to recognize fee ownership for certain oil and gas drilling or spacing units, and for other purposes: NPCA strongly opposes S.180, a reckless land management proposal that would allow oil and gas operators to bypass the need for essential drilling permits on federal, state and private land if certain easily-reached conditions are met. This is an attempt to roll back the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act and would serve as yet another oil and gas industry handout during the COVID pandemic. This bill would allow for increased drilling without any intentional oversight, further exacerbating the ongoing climate crisis affecting people and parks now.

S. 1765 – Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act: NPCA supports proposal, which provides critical wildlife connectivity between Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. These parks are home to sensitive species, such as grizzly bears, but these parks’ wildlife populations are also genetically isolated. Continued persistence of iconic wildlife in these flagship parks depends on maintaining and restoring migration and dispersal corridors between the protected parks. The Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act helps to achieve this connectivity, thus supporting the wildlife heritage of America’s premier national parks. The proposal has broad community support, is the result of extensive local stakeholder collaboration, and balances the needs of timber-based economies, healthy forest ecosystems and outdoor recreation interests. The community partnerships established to reach this proposal are genuine, robust and critical for the long-term management of the region’s public lands. The bill enjoys broad bipartisan support, with 75 percent of Montanans in support of its passage. With approximately 7 million travelers visiting Glacier and Yellowstone annually – many to view the wildlife of the northern Rockies – and with non-resident visitors spending $3.7 billion annually in Montana, the protection of healthy forest ecosystems between the two parks is critical not only to the region’s natural heritage but also its economic future. For these reasons NPCA endorses S.1765, the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act.

S. 3241 – a bill to amend the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act to establish the Cerro de la Olla Wilderness in Río Grande del Norte National Monument, New Mexico: Cerro de la Olla is an exceptional tract of land and unique, lush, forested habitat in the middle of Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. It is absolutely deserving of formal wilderness designation to permanently protect its special qualities and resources. Along with the Taos Pueblo Tribe, members of the traditional local Hispano community, and so many others, NPCA strongly supports this legislation.

S. 3366 – the Gold Star Families Act: NPCA supports this important legislation, which would provide free entry to national parks and other federal lands for Gold Star Families. A Gold Star is given to next of kin of members of armed forces that have lost their lives in the line of duty. Our national parks and public lands can help provide respite and therapy to families through outdoor recreation.

S. 3427 – Modernizing Access to Our Public Land Act: NPCA is concerned this legislation does not sufficiently clarify certain important definitions that would modify how this legislation is applied. Specifically, the bill does not define a road, trail, and right of way for the purpose of understanding federal ownership. This clarity is important when making management decisions and would elucidate the intended outcomes of the proposed legislation.

S.4431 – Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020: As the West burns, community safety is our collective priority. But as the Senate considers legislative action, NPCA encourages lawmakers’ to focus on community and health safety, as well as one of the primary causes of increased fire vulnerability and intensity—climate change. Unfortunately, S.4431 does not adequately address either. Instead, the bill undermines environmental protections and judicial review, could speed up harmful post-fire (salvage) logging, directs management away from the wildland urban interface—where management is needed most, and does not address climate change impacts to forests. NPCA opposes S.4431 and encourages the committee to consider legislation guided by the best available science, that more directly addresses the needs of fire-prone communities.