DENVER – Western Energy Alliance today calls on the U.S. Department of the Interior to address growing mismanagement of national park funding and reverse policies threatening future conservation projects. Ongoing fires at Yosemite National Park and recent flooding at Yellowstone National Park underscore the growing threats to national parks from the Biden Administration’s poor oversight of conservation funding from the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA).
“In only 18 months, the Biden Administration’s mismanagement has put at risk the greatest conservation program created in the past 50 years,” said Alliance President Kathleen Sgamma. “In 2020, we saw a united, bipartisan majority in Congress pass legislation to help conserve national parks. Yet President Biden is creating a double whammy that threatens our parks. In the past year alone, costs for maintaining national parks have ballooned from $13 billion to $21.8 billion with no explanation from Department of the Interior officials. Recent oversight hearings in Congress reveal it’s due to increased bureaucracy at Interior, meaning it’s going to be even harder moving forward for Yosemite, Yellowstone, and other parks to recover from disasters. Interior and other agencies are tied in knots implementing ambiguous climate change, ESG, and environmental justice orders that prioritize red tape over accomplishing the conservation mission. What’s better for society and has more ESG value than the conservation of popular national parks? Congress specifically prioritized conservation by passing GAOA, yet Interior is assigning bureaucrats to apply ESG screens and other paperwork shuffling that increases costs and diverts funds to red tape over conservation on the ground.
“Compounding the problem, the president’s oil and natural gas policies are threatening future national park funding. Under GAOA, federal oil and natural gas production has generated the vast majority of the $2.5 billion dedicated to restoring national parks, including $121 million for Yosemite and $284 million for Yellowstone. Yet the Biden ban on nearly all leasing and overregulation puts the stream of conservation funds at risk. Given the magnitude of the recent disasters, we urge Interior to prioritize national parks and preserve conservation funding by reversing these damaging policies,” added Sgamma.
The Great American Outdoors Act passed Congress in an overwhelming bipartisan fashion in 2020. The act authorizes up to $1.9 billion annually, predominantly from oil and natural gas production on non-park, non-wilderness public lands, for maintenance and conservation in national parks and other protected public lands. The act also permanently funds the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund to the tune of $900 million annually, which is exclusively generated from offshore oil and natural gas.
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