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house Bill H.R. 1225

Should Revenue From Energy Development on Federal Land Be Used to Address the Maintenance Backlog at National Parks and Other Public Lands?

Argument in favor

Between them, the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) manage many of America’s most important public lands. Using energy tax revenue to fund much-needed restoration and maintenance projects on the lands these agencies manage will benefit many Americans.

Argument opposed

Using tax revenue from energy developed on other federal lands to fund maintenance at national parks and federally-held public lands frequented by the public would make it harder for the U.S. to stop using fossil fuels. Instead, Congress should spend more money on public land maintenance and relevant agencies should raise their fees for consumers.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands
      Water, Oceans, and Wildlife
      Indigenous Peoples of the United States
      Committee on Natural Resources
    IntroducedFebruary 14th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 1225?

This bill — the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act — would establish a National Park Service and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund at the U.S. Treasury to address the maintenance backlog of the National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). Each year in FY2020 through FY2024, 50% of all energy development revenues due and payable to the U.S. from oil, gas, coal or alternative or renewable energy development on federal land and water would be deposited in the Fund. The amount deposited into the Fund would be capped at $1.3 billion each fiscal year. 

Money in the Fund would be used in the following manner: 

  • 80% would be used for priority deferred maintenance projects, including other infrastructure deficiencies directly related to such deferred maintenance projects, as determined by the Secretary of the Interior and the Director of the National Park Service, with the goal of ensuring overall parity between amounts allocated to transportation and non-transportation projects; 
  • 10% would be used for addressing the national wildlife refuge system maintenance backlog, as determined by the Secretary of the Interior and the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 
  • 5% would be used for addressing the public access and recreation backlog on public lands, as determined by the Secretary of the Interior and the Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM); and
  • 5% would be used for addressing the Bureau of Indian Education school construction and deferred maintenance backlogs, as determined by the Secretary of the Interior and the Director of the Bureau of Indian Education.

No more than 10% of the Fund’s money could be used for administrative costs associated with implementing this bill. No money in the Fund could be used for: 1) land acquisition; 2) replacing discretionary funding made available for the annual recurring facility operations, maintenance and construction needs of the entities for which amounts for the Fund are allocated; or 3) for performance awards for federal employees who are employed in implementing this act. 

The Secretary of the Interior would be responsible for submitting a list of projects that Fund’s money would fund to the appropriate congressional committees, whichwould include a description of each project. 

The Secretary of the Interior, NPS Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director, BLM Director, and the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs would be empowered to accept public cash or in-kind donations to the Fund to advance efforts to: 1) reduce the National Park Service’s deferred maintenance backlog, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national wildlife refuge system maintenance backlog, BLM public access and recreation backlog and the Bureau of Indian Education school construction backlog; and 2) encourage relevant public-private partnerships. Each donation received from the public would be included in the president’s annual budget submission to Congress.

Impact

Treasury Dept.; National Park Service (NPS); Bureau of Land Management (BLM); Bureau of Indian Education (BIE); U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Secretary of the Interior; NPS Director; US Fish and Wildlife Service Director; BLM Director; Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs; maintenance backlogs at the NPS, BLM, BIE and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and public donations for national parks and wildlife.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1225

$6.50 Billion
During the 115th Congress, the CBO estimated that implementing this bill would cost $6.5 billion over the 2019-2028 period.

More Information

In-DepthHouse Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Rob Bishop (R-UT) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to fund the restoration and maintenance of public lands

“[O]ne thing Americans love most are our National Parks. Our parks are treasures, the perfect backdrop to a great love story. Unfortunately, they are in need of some serious TLC. This bipartisan bill will put us on the path to improving our parks for future generations.”

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), who introduced an amendment in the nature of a substitute to replace this bill’s original text with updated language that made agencies other than the NPS eligible to receive money from the Fund, noted the need to address the NPS’ backlog in 2018 when this bill passed the House Natural Resources Committee by a voice vote: 

“We’ve heard repeatedly in this committee that the National Park system has nearly a $12 billion maintenance backlog. We’ve been talking about it for years and talking about dedicated funding specifically for this problem. This bill provides it.”

The American Hiking Society expressed support for this bill in 2018, when it was being considered by the House Natural Resources Committee in the 115th Congress: 

“[This bill] is a first step to address the $21.5 billion maintenance backlog that exists across all federal lands. The bill creates a fund that would provide $6.5 billion over five years from energy development revenues on federal land and water to address the most pressing deferred maintenance needs within the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education… When annual maintenance needs go unaddressed, long-term problems arise, impacting the public’s ability to access outdoor recreation. Closed trails, out-of-service restrooms, campgrounds in poor conditions, and impassable roads are only a few of the barriers that hikers face. Currently 193,500 miles of trails on federal lands need $1.71 billion of estimated maintenance… The economic impact of trails and the potential increased economic activity from addressing deferred maintenance needs would be significant. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, recreation on trails in America accounted for $201 billion in annual spending in 2017 and were responsible for 1.7 million jobs. Much of this spending takes place in small communities along each of the trails, communities for which this income is substantial, meaningful, and will remain local. Many of the jobs trails create cannot be exported offshore: guides and outfitters, hotel staff and restaurateurs, and numerous others directly benefit the community in which they reside. Open and well-maintained trails are essential for this continued economic benefit. Trails are more than just an economic engine. Since our nation’s founding, the outdoors has been a distinctive part of our American heritage, and trails are integral to that. Whether it’s a family out for a hike on a nearby trail, a returning veteran walking off the war, or hunters and anglers accessing their sites, Americans continue to seek places for outdoor recreation, a connection to nature, and healthy exercise. By addressing long overdue improvements to trails and the surrounding infrastructure, Congress can ensure that outdoor recreation remains open and accessible.”

In its statement, the American Hiking Society also encouraged the U.S. Forest Service’s inclusion in the Fund’s purview

“[S]omewhat perplexingly, [this bill] does not include the U.S. Forest Service and its 193 million acres of public lands, encompassing 157,000 miles of trails. We urge the committee to rectify this oversight prior to final passage.”

The Trump administration supports using the idea of using energy revenue for park infrastructure. However, when this bill’s predecessor was introduced in the 115th Congress, then-Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke didn’t endorse this bill.

This bill has 290 bipartisan cosponsors, including 172 Democrats and 118 Republicans, in the 116th Congress. 

In the 115th Congress, it passed the House Natural Resources Committee by a voice vote with the support of 233 bipartisan cosponsors, including 135 Democrats and 98 Republicans, in addition to the National Parks Conservation Association, National Trust for Historic Preservation and the American Hiking Society.


Of NoteThe NPS manages over 400 national park units, including iconic landscapes, historic and cultural sites, trails, military battlegrounds, monuments, and memorials. In its 2017 Annual Summary Report, the NPS reported 331 million recreational visits to its parks, $18.2 billion spending local gateway communities (towns and cities that are buoyed by close proximity to the national parks), $35.8 billion in national economic output attributable to parks and 306,000 jobs supported by visitor spending at NPS sites.

Due to aging facilities, strain on resources caused by increased visitation at many park units, and inconsistent annual funding, NPS has been unable to keep pace with needed park repairs. Based on 2017 data, the agency estimates that it’d cost $11.6 billion to address its maintenance backlog.  

The idea of using oil money for parks has been around for decades in the form of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which was created in 1964. Since at least early 2017, then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and lawmakers in both parties have advocated for a new fund for the NPS maintenance backlog, paid for with energy money.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / noblige)

AKA

Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act

Official Title

To establish, fund, and provide for the use of amounts in a National Park Service and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund to address the maintenance backlog of the National Park Service, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education, and for other purposes.

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