Quantcast

Zinke and Alexander: Pillaging National Parks for Fossil Fuels Is How We'll Protect Them

Popular
Ryan Zinke and Lamar Alexander in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Aug. 25, 2017. Knoxville News Sentinel / YouTube

By Andrea Germanos

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke joined with U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to argue that the best way to fix the national parks is by pillaging public lands for fossil fuels.

Their CNN op-ed published Wednesday focuses on the $11.6 billion repair backlog the parks face—"our parks are being loved to death," they write. They say revenue to address the infrastructure repairs can come through their proposed legislation, the National Park Restoration Act (S.2509). Lamar is the sponsor of the bipartisan legislation, which he introduced at the behest of Zinke, and as the Interior Department noted in a press release, it "follows the blueprint laid out in Secretary Zinke and President Trump's budget proposal, the Public Lands Infrastructure Fund."


As Zinke and Lamar lay out:

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.

Environmental groups have long cautioned against fueling the climate crisis with fossil fuel extraction on public lands—production Zinke is pushing to make easier.

Responding to the joint op-ed, some on social media gave the Zinke-Alexander plan a resounding thumbs-down and pointed to the need to get off fossil fuels:


According to Randi Spivak, the public lands program director for the Center for Biological Diversity, "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." She also noted an analysis (pdf) from her group that "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."

As for the $18 billion the Zinke-pushed plan supposedly would generate, that's "a fantasy number," Aaron Weiss, media director for the Center for Western Priorities, told ThinkProgress. "The idea that you could spark a giant stampede of new production while oil prices are where they are today, it's just fantasy land."

Environmental groups including The Wilderness Society and National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) say that the infrastructure proposal put forth by Democrats is a far better option.

In the Democrat proposal, wrote NPCA's Ani Kame'enui, "None of these construction and maintenance projects would be paid for at the expense of public lands and waters. Instead, this plan funds infrastructure work by rolling back some of the controversial corporate tax cuts passed in December 2017. We don't need to sacrifice public lands and environmental protections to improve America's infrastructure."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Cigarette butt litter. Tavallai / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Dipika Kadaba

We've known for more than 50 years that smoking cigarettes comes with health hazards, but it turns out those discarded butts are harmful for the environment, too. Filtered cigarette butts, although small, contain dozens of chemicals, including arsenic and benzene. These toxins can leach into the ground or water, creating a potentially deadly situation for nearby birds, fish and other wildlife.

Read More Show Less
Thanasis Zovoilis / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Infants less than a year old should not be exposed to electronic screens, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

By Wenonah Hauter

Five years ago this week, an emergency manager appointed by then-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made the devastating decision to save money by switching Flint's water supply over from Detroit's water system to the Flint River. Seen as a temporary fix, the new water supply was not properly treated. High levels of lead leached from the old pipes, poisoning a generation of Flint's children, and bacteria responsible for an outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease killed more than a dozen residents.

Read More Show Less
Los Angeles-Long Beach, California is listed as the nation's smoggiest city. Pixabay

Seven million more Americans lived in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution between 2015 and 2017 than between 2014 and 2016, and climate change is partly to blame, Time reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
Kissing bug. Pavel Kirillov / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that the kissing bug, which can transmit a potentially deadly parasite, has spread to Delaware, ABC News reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
"Take the pledge today." Screenshot / StopFoodWasteDay.com

Did you know that more than a third of food is wasted or thrown away every year? And that only 25 percent of it would be enough to feed the 795 million undernourished people in the world? That's why today is Stop Food Waste Day, a chance to reflect on what you can do to waste less of the food you buy.

Stop Food Waste Day is an initiative of food service company Compass Group. It was launched first in the U.S, in 2017 and went global the year after, making today it's second worldwide celebration.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

Berries are among the healthiest foods you can eat.

Read More Show Less
Flames and smoke are seen billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral on April 15 in Paris, France. Veronique de Viguerie / Getty Images

When Paris's Notre Dame caught fire on April 15, the flames threatened more than eight centuries of culture and history. The fire evoked shock, horror and grief worldwide. While the cathedral burned, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed determination to rebuild what the French regard as a sacred site.

Read More Show Less