NPCA, along with the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, Park Rangers for Our Lands, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and the Southern Environmental Law Center, submitted the following positions on legislation considered by the House Natural Resources Committee during a markup on June 8, 2015.
H.R. 2295, the “National Energy Security Corridors Act,” would, in part, amend the Minerals Leasing Act to strip the requirement for Congressional authorization when constructing a natural gas pipeline across National Park Service land. We strongly oppose this provision, and urge members of the Committee to exclude it from the bill.
The continued success of the national park idea depends upon careful stewardship of their resources. Oil and natural gas pipelines are examples of a utility that could cause impairment to a national park unit. Such pipelines were not included in the lists of public utilities that could receive Secretarial approval under the Mineral Leasing Act and the National Park Service’s administrative regulations. The threat of rupture and explosion posed by natural gas pipelines requires that their construction through our most prized public lands should require Congressional approval.
The drafters of the Mineral Leasing Act understood that the federal government should only encourage private companies to seek easements across national park lands for gas pipelines when all other options are exhausted. In the few cases where this “last resort” is reached, Congress has been willing and able to pass legislation allowing the exception of oil and gas pipelines. The Mineral Leasing Act provides a logical and effective path for oil and gas pipeline easements as it is currently written. The federal government should not encourage the use of national parks for gas pipelines.
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Former Senior Manager, Landscape Conservation Program