Zinke and Sen. Alexander’s plan to save national parks includes pillaging them

Many are against the proposal to extract fossil fuel from public lands and further fuel the climate change crisis.

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Ryan Zinke, Interior Secretary and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., have a plan to save national parks and it doesn’t include any protections. In a joint op-ed published on CNN’s website on Wednesday, Zinke and Sen. Alexander explained that the “best way to fix national parks is by pillaging public lands for fossil fuels,” Common Dreams reported.

While the national parks face an $11.6 billion repair, which has been backlogged, the two wrote that the revenue to fix the parks will come through the National Park Restoration Act (S.2509), their proposed legislation that allocates a special fund established in the Treasury of the United States to improve the country’s 417 national parks.

The op-ed explained:

“Neglect in infrastructure funding has resulted in our trails being eroded, visitor amenities being diminished and campgrounds being closed,” the op-ed reads. “The total deferred maintenance bill for all national park sites is four times the annual congressional appropriation. The good news is that this year, we have a proposal in Congress that could tackle most, if not all, of that $11.6 billion backlog over the next 10 years.”

Zinke and Sen. Alexander further explained:

“These revenues will come from energy leases on all onshore and offshore sources of energy production on federal land: oil, gas, coal, renewables, and alternative energy. The fund would receive 50 percent of onshore and offshore revenues from energy production on federal lands over expected amounts that are not already allocated to other purposes.”

But many are against the proposal to extract fossil fuel from public lands and further fuel the climate change crisis.

Analysis conducted by the Center for Biological Diversity “shows there’s been no meaningful environmental review, disclosure of harms, or public engagement regarding nearly 200,000 acres of public lands in six Western states scheduled to be auctioned off during the first half of 2018.”

“There appears to be no limit to the fossil fuel industry’s appetite for extraction and the Trump administration’s willingness to bend over backward for these polluting companies,” Randi Spivak, the public lands program director for the Center for Biological Diversity, said.

While the proposal is in line with the Department of Interior’s “fiscal 2019 budget request that would fund the national park backlog through oil, gas and mineral extraction on public land,” The Hill reported, Zinke is “technically” bared from lobbying a congressional bill because he is a cabinet secretary.

“Our bipartisan proposal, then, is the latest chapter in this American story of conservation: using revenues from energy development on federal lands as mandatory or automatic funding to help pay for the national park maintenance backlog,” Zinke and Alexander write.

 

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