Policy Update Mar 19, 2024

NPCA Position on Energy Bills that Could Result in Harm to National Parks

NPCA sent the following positions to the House of Representatives ahead of anticipated votes scheduled for the week of March 18, 2024. 

H.R. 6009 – Restoring American Energy Dominance Act: NPCA opposes this legislation, which stops the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from updating its onshore oil and gas program for the first time in 35 years. Not only does this legislation halt a public regulatory process partway through, it prohibits BLM from proposing any substantially similar rules. This effectively prohibits BLM from updating this program in the future, making it harder for the agency to oversee the federal onshore leasing program.

The proposed rule follows recommendations by the Government Accountability Office and implements reforms already passed into law. In the rule, BLM makes the leasing process more straightforward and streamlines paperwork and filing requirements for industry, making the leasing and auction processes more consistent while updating it for the 21st century. The proposed rule also ensures that BLM considers proximity to national parks and other special places during the parcel selection process. By taking a holistic approach to parcel selection, BLM can avoid conflicts later in the leasing process and costly and time-consuming lawsuits while protecting irreplaceable cultural and natural treasures. This approach also ensures that lands used for conservation and recreation purposes by millions of Americans are not impeded by oil and gas development.

During the comment period for the proposed rule, over 99% of all comments were supportive. The current leasing system and onshore oil and gas program is antiquated and does not offer proper oversight or ensure protections and fair returns to American taxpayers. We urge a No vote on H.R. 6009.

H.R. 1023 – the Cutting Green Corruption and Taxes Act: NPCA opposes this legislation, which repeals implementation of the Methane Emissions Reduction Program (MERP). MERP is critical to ensuring the successful and efficient reduction of oil and gas methane emissions and spurring economic innovation in methane mitigation. Methane is a greenhouse gas that traps over 80 times more heat on our planet than carbon dioxide in the short term. Methane is often leaked and vented during oil and gas operations, degrading air quality around national parks, driving climate change, threatening public health, and harming unique resources that national parks protect, like dark night skies. We urge a No vote on H.R. 1023 to protect national parks, visitors and communities and our climate from harmful and wasteful methane emissions.

H.R. 7023 – the Creating Confidence in Clean Water Permitting Act: NPCA opposes this legislation, which weakens or delays the protection of our waterways under the Clean Water Act. Over 220 national park units do not meet water quality standards for visitor health and park resources. Instead of creating more protections that help clean up park waterways, this bill slows down EPA’s ability to set and revise water quality standards. It also creates new general permits for discharges under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System without the safeguards of a similar program. The bill essentially eliminates EPA’s ability to apply a rarely used, but necessary authority under Sec. 404© to stop large, polluting projects like the Pebble Mine near Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed. Finally, the bill prevents effective judicial review of projects that fill in wetlands, streams and other waters. We urge a No vote on H.R. 7023 to prevent rolling back clean water protections for our parks and communities.

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