Press Release May 31, 2023

Debt Ceiling Deal Could Impact Our National Parks, Air, Water and Wildlife

“Compromise is essential to our country’s progress, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of our most treasured places and the people who protect them." - Theresa Pierno, NPCA's President and CEO

Washington, DC – After weeks of negotiations, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate will take up legislation to raise the country’s debt ceiling ahead of the June 5 default deadline. The two-year bipartisan agreement, however, includes several elements that could prove extremely harmful to our national parks and communities, as well as our public lands, air and water.

The legislation threatens harmful spending cuts to government agencies like the National Park Service, putting hundreds of Park Service rangers and other positions at risk. Cuts to NPS’ budget could also undermine youth programs and delay critical climate assessment and scientific research. For years, NPCA and our members and supporters have spoken out to ensure that our parks and park staff have the resources they need to protect our most treasured landscapes and irreplaceable cultural and historic places. This deal would undo years of work, potentially jeopardizing the protection, maintenance and operation of our more than 420 national parks across the country.

In addition to capping funding for agencies that protect our public lands, air, water and climate, the deal will also expedite the Mountain Valley Pipeline project, which will harm the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, creating miles of clear cuts along the iconic trail.

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

“While it is critical that Congress pass legislation to raise the debt ceiling, the agreement reached could do serious damage to our national parks and impact all who visit them. An across-the-board spending freeze could result in the loss of hundreds of park ranger jobs, chip away at Youth Corps programs and delay critically needed climate assessments over the next two years. This deal could undermine the progress made from last year’s bipartisan investments and put our parks deeper into the financial hole they’ve been trying to dig out of for over a decade. It’s unrealistic to expect our national parks to meet their mission to protect park resources and safely welcome millions of visitors with even less money and less staff.

“Compromise is essential to our country’s progress, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of our most treasured places and the people who protect them. Congress must stand up for our parks and protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the places that protect our priceless history and stories. National parks and the communities they support deserve better and so do the American people.”

Statement by Pamela Goddard, Mid-Atlantic Region Senior Program Director, National Parks Conservation Association:

“Our national parks are not political chess pieces. Fast-tracking a natural gas pipeline that would have serious negative impacts on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is not the way to clear a path forward on the debt ceiling talks. It would be short-sighted and irresponsible to try to approve the Mountain Valley Pipeline without following the proper permitting processes as defined by our bedrock environmental laws. Congress must strike this provision from the bill and continue bipartisan talks on the national debt without sacrificing the public lands that are ours to share.”


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 more than 1.6 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