Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Democrats fight over Ryan Zinke's plan to use energy revenue to fix national parks

Pipeline leaks, broken bathrooms, and potholed roads at America’s national parks have pushed some Democrats to hold their nose and support a Trump administration idea on how to fix it. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has proposed paying for billions of dollars of repairs and maintenance in national parks with money the government collects from the development of oil, natural gas, wind, and solar energy on public lands. The plan would create the Public Lands Infrastructure Fund of up to $18 billion over 10 years for maintenance and improvements in national parks, wildlife refuges, and Bureau of Indian Education schools. It would use royalty payments and lease sales on federal onshore and offshore lands. Bipartisan coalitions in both chambers of Congress have endorsed the proposal with matching legislation. “I don't understand other Democrats who are opposed to this,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., a cosponsor of one of the bills. “The money comes from oil and gas revenue, but what’s greener than our national parks system? Let's be smart about this for gosh sake and use this money for something that promotes the values I'd like to think thoughtful Democrats and Republicans both have with our national parks." But other Democrats oppose the plan, arguing it’s wrong to tie the health of national parks, which are uniformly loved, to the Trump administration’s aim to expand drilling, an effort loathed by environmentalists that form some of the liberal base. “We are going to be incentivizing extraction of oil and gas,” Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, told the Washington Examiner. “I understand the desperation some Democrats feel as it pertains to the maintenance backlog, and I absolutely agree with them. I am willing to talk. But the premise of the plan is the more extraction, the more we take care of the backlog. And that's backwards.”...MORE

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