Policy Update Jul 21, 2022

Position on legislation before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

 NPCA sent the following positions to Senators on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee ahead of an anticipated markup scheduled for July 21st, 2022. 

S.192 - River Democracy Act of 2021: NPCA supports this legislation, which furthers protections for treasured national park sites in Oregon. Rivers and streams are the lifeblood of many national park units, providing clean water, recreational opportunities and essential habitat for fish and wildlife. Among the 4,700 miles of streams and rivers across Oregon proposed for protection through this bill are important waterways in or flowing from national park areas. A portion of Bridge Creek goes next to and through the well-known Painted Hills unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Several proposed stream segments on the west side of Crater Lake National Park connect the park waters to the existing Upper Rogue River Wild and Scenic River. At Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve, the entire lengths of Lake and Cave Creeks will connect the existing River Styx Wild and Scenic River, the only underground protected river, to the surrounding watershed.

S. 387 – Grand Canyon Protection Act: NPCA supports this bill to protect Grand Canyon National Park, its watershed and the water sources vital to the Havasupai people, from the impacts of uranium mining. This legislation would make permanent the current 20-year ban on uranium mining for one million acres of land neighboring Grand Canyon National Park. This action will preserve for future generations the beauty and health of what is one of America’s most awe-inspiring landscapes. Tribal leaders, business owners, local officials and conservation groups all support this commonsense continuation of the temporary mining prohibition that the Department of the Interior recognized as necessary in 2012. While the Grand Canyon is clearly the wrong place to mine for uranium, risking contamination of a national jewel, it is the right place to invest in the booming tourism and recreation industries that employ thousands of Americans and bring hundreds of millions of dollars to rural communities.

S. 1344 - To redesignate the Pullman National Monument in the State of Illinois as the Pullman National Historical Park, and for other purposes: NPCA supports this legislation to rename Pullman National Monument as Pullman National Historical Park. This bill closely mirrors the legislation introduced in 2014 to establish Pullman as a national historical park and to provide the National Park Service (NPS) with the ability to enter cooperative agreements and provide technical assistance. The provisions in this bill are critical for NPS to work with its many partners and improve this historic treasure located in a disinvested area of Chicago’s south side.

S. 1493 – Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act: NPCA supports this 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 protection of healthy forest ecosystems between the two parks is critical not only to the region’s natural heritage but also its economic future.

S.1769 - Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act: The Rim of the Valley is an area rich in both natural and cultural resources, including critical wildlife corridors, waterways and landscapes worthy of inclusion in our National Park System. With more than 17 million people, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area is the second most populous region of the country; yet has less open space per capita than all other large cities on the West Coast. NPCA supports the Rim of the Valley legislation, as it represents an opportunity to better protect and manage some of the region’s last wild lands and open spaces—including habitat for threatened species ranging from the mountain lions to the redlegged frogs—and historic sites that will allow NPS to tell the story of Los Angeles’s rich and nationally-significant history. The expanded presence of NPS will also facilitate new partnerships with schools, local governments and community-based organizations, expand agency-led interpretive programs, connect more youth and families to the outdoors, and build a new generation of park enthusiasts.

S. 2130 – RISEE Act of 2021: NPCA has concerns with this legislation, which would endanger the current funding of some important conservation programs including the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the National Parks and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund, and the Historic Preservation Fund. By redirecting revenue from offshore energy royalties, the RISEE Act could lessen the amount of available funds for these programs while incentivizing an increase in oil and gas production to create more revenue. Additionally, it locks away a potential future funding mechanism for these programs that would incentivize renewable energy. For similar reasons NPCA also has also concerns with the way S. 2996, the Alaska Offshore Parity Act, redirects revenues from offshore energy production.

S. 2367 – Frederick Jobs and Historic Preservation Training Center Land Acquisition Act: NPCA supports this legislation, which authorizes NPS to acquire land in Frederick County, Maryland for a Historic Preservation Training Center. The Training Center is necessary to teach NPS employees important preservation and maintenance skills required to protect national park sites throughout the country.

S. 3129 – M.H. Dutch Salmon Greater Gila Wild and Scenic River Act: NPCA supports this legislation, which would designate segments of the Gila River in New Mexico as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. This designation will ensure long-term protection of the Gila’s riparian ecosystem and its threatened and endangered species, while also protecting clean water for outdoor recreation, local communities and the region’s economy. It will carry immediate benefits for Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and surrounding public lands and wilderness.

S. 3141 – To establish the New Philadelphia National Historical Park in the State of Illinois as a unit of the National Park System, and for other purposes: NPCA supports this legislation, which would create the proposed New Philadelphia National Historical Park. It is the first known town in the U.S. to be planned and legally registered by an African American and its significance is well-documented by NPS. No original buildings or structures are visible above ground, but the site has excellent archaeological integrity. Its historical and archaeological significance was recognized in 2005 by inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places and in 2009 by its designation as a National Historic Landmark.

S. 3667 - African-American Burial Grounds Preservation Act: NPCA supports this bill, which would provide much needed support to those who have struggled to protect the last resting places of countless ancestors and family members. Too many African American cemeteries are subject to neglect and incompatible development resulting in permanent loss of their resources and integrity.

S. 3685 – John P. Parker House Study Act: NPCA supports this legislation, which would direct the Department of the Interior to study the feasibility of establishing the John P. Parker House as a unit of the National Park System. The site, which is currently a National Historic Landmark, commemorates the life-long work of an abolitionist and inventor. Parker was an instrumental figure for the Underground Railroad and saved countless enslaved individuals lives, and risked his own life, as he aided them north. He was also one of the first African Americans to patent an invention prior to 1900. This site is deserving of further protection and interpretation from NPS as it strives to tell the full American story.

S. 4114 - A bill to amend Public Land 99-420 to provide for the conveyance of certain Federal land in the State of Maine for use for affordable workforce housing, and for other purposes: NPCA supports this legislation that removes hurdles and allows for an undeveloped parcel of land to be developed for affordable community workforce housing, including for permanent and seasonal staff at Acadia National Park. As housing prices increase in national park gateway communities throughout the country, it becomes unaffordable. This legislation provides a great step in addressing the problem in communities around Acadia National Park. We hope Congress can also provide a federal investment through appropriations to build the housing needed.

H.R. 1931 – Japanese American Confinement Education Act: NPCA supports this bill as a critical step toward strengthening the Japanese American Confinement Sites (JACS) competitive grant program within the National Park Service. Established in 2009, the JACS program has been a lifeline for the preservation and interpretation of the Japanese American WWII incarceration experience, widely recognized as one of the greatest civil liberties violations in U.S. history. The bill would also establish a new educational program so that current and future generations can learn about a living history that must never be forgotten.

S.4227 - 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 opposes this legislation. This bill claims to streamline the federal oil and gas permitting process, which currently works quickly and efficiently, but would in practice keep the government from performing environmental analysis or public engagement. This lack of analysis and engagement threatens the protection of our parks and public lands. The bill would also make it harder to monitor oil and gas production. This is not only dangerous but would also allow companies to keep from paying their fair share in royalties to state and federal governments. This bill is looking to fix a system that works as constituted by skirting environmental protections all while oil and gas companies sit on roughly 9,000 unused drilling permits.