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H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks

02.03.17

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H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
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  • View of Half Dome from Washburn Point.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • Views from the Watchman Lookout Tower at Crater Lake are unbeatable.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • View into the Bryce Amphitheater from the Bryce Canyon National Park's Rim Trail.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • A waning moon sets over the north ridge in Lassen Volcanic National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • Skater on Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park. - H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • Loch Vale in Rocky Mountain National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • Starry night at Royal Lake in Olympic National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  •  Twin Tanks Backcountry Campsite in Joshua Tree National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • The off season is a great season to see General Sherman in Sequoia National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • The Pear Lake Ski hut in Sequoia National Park doubles as a national park ranger station during the summer months.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • Light show on Sol Duc Falls in Olympic National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • Mount Rainier (14,411 ft) and Eunice Lake from Tolmie Peak.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • Bearhat Mountain, Hidden Lake, and a mountain goat in Glacier National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • A mountain goat in the mist near Sperry Camp, Glacier National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • The Marching Men formations in Arches National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • The Subway, Zion National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • Great views of the Grand Canyon are just steps away from North Rim Campground.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • Waterpocket Fold from the Chimney Rock Trail, Capitol Reef National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • Historic 1920s cabin in Upper Cathedral Valley, Capitol Reef National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • The False Kiva in Canyonlands National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • The parade grounds of Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • In Dry Tortugas National Park, a moat walk panoramic with the South Beach and campground on the right.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • Mount Rainier (14,411 ft) from Sunrise Point.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • Panoramic view of Mount Rainier (14,411 ft) from Burroughs Mountain (Sunrise area).- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • View of Cliff Palace from Sun Point View in Mesa Verde National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • With 150 rooms, Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • Mirror Lake in Carlsbad Caverns National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • An old and abandoned ladder leading to the lower level in Carlsbad Caverns National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • The beginning of the Kolob Canyon Scenic Drive in Zion National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • A full subway tunnel effect in Zion National Park. This is as far as you can go in The Subway without gear.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • A half lit Half Dome seen from Lower Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • Rising more than 3,000 feet above the valley floor in Yosemite National Park, El Capitan is the largest granite monolith in the world.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • Looking down over the valley in Yosemite National Park- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • Under Delicate Arch's shadow in Arches National Park.- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
  • Mount Olympus (7,969') and a herd of mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus) from the summit of Hurricane Hill (5,757').- H.J. Res. 46 Will Allow Drilling in Our National Parks
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Pro Contributor

When the Congressional Review Act (CRA) was enacted in 1996, it allowed Congress to review federal regulations and overrule those that they didn’t like through resolution rather than having to pass a bill. Because resolutions cannot be filibustered and only a simple majority is required for them to pass, this type of reversal is nearly impossible to defeat given the current demographic of Congress.

In the past two weeks we have seen an unprecedented attack on environmental regulations and policies from both the House and the Senate, several of which make use of the CRA. From the narrow escape on H.R. 621 (withdrawn due to intense public outrage), to the vote on Friday by the House of Representatives choosing to repeal reductions in air pollution from methane emissions on BLM lands, the current administration is seeking to rollback valuable protections on our public lands. It’s hard to decide which attack is the most surprising, given the enormity and scale of each proposal. Perhaps the most egregious assault comes in the form of H.J. Res. 46 put forward by Congressman Paul Gosar, from Arizona.

H.J. Res. 46 would reject recent updates to the National Park Service (NPS) “9B” rules. For over 40 national parks, the federal government (and by extension, the public) owns the surface of the land, but not the minerals locked underground. This is known as “split-estate.” The BLM offers a decent explanation of how "split-estate" works. According to the National Park Conservation Association, under H.J. Res 46, “drilling could occur in national parks with little more than bare-minimum state regulations…[and NPS would] have essentially no authority over oil and gas development proposed inside national parks.” The 9B rules require drilling operators to compensate the federal government for site reclamation in the event of spills or closure, and they give enforcement authority to park law enforcement if strict planning and safety regulations are not followed. These are common sense demands given that the mandate of the National Park Service requires preservation of resources unimpaired. Drilling for oil and gas, not to mention the construction of access roads necessary for the extraction, does not allow for preservation unimpaired.

Gosar is clearly no friend of the environment and seeks to upend all that the NPS stands for. The League of Conservation Voters gave him an astoundingly dismal score of just 3 percent last year, a stark contrast to the 41 percent average for the rest of the House of Representatives. Gosar has also just been selected to chair the subcommittee on Energy and Minerals for the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. His emphasis has been and will be on energy development over environmental protections.

Because of the CRA, if Gosar is successful with H.J. Res 46, the National Park Service will be reliant on Congress to direct them to issue similar protections in the future. This should terrify everyone who enjoys our gorgeous public lands. The potential economic impact must also be mentioned. National Parks have continued to draw increasingly larger crowds in the past 5 years. In 2015, over 305 million people visited the park system. Those same people poured billions of dollars into small local economies. If our parks deteriorate in quality and visitor numbers go down, the gateway communities will also suffer.

We’ve seen recently that speaking up works. Reaching out to representatives creates change. The National Parks need your voice now more than ever. By staying engaged, we keep the pressure on Congress to not run roughshod over public lands. Wallace Stegner once wrote, “National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” Right now, Gosar’s actions reflect our worst. Do not let him speak for you. Make your voice heard by speaking to your representatives, preferably with a phone call. You can easily search for their contact information using tools like the Countable app . You can follow the progress of H.J. Res. 46 here. Consider calling Rep. Paul Gosar yourself; you do not have to be his constituent to speak up. Stay informed and discuss this with your family and friends. The more voices that get heard, the better chance we have of preserving our National Parks. 

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