- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
- senate Committees
- The house has not voted
National Parks, Forests, and Public LandsCommittee on Natural ResourcesIntroducedJanuary 3rd, 2019
- house Committees
What is House Bill H.R. 182?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 182
In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to reauthorize the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission for 10 years. Rep. Keating says this bill is “overdue,” and that it’s “something that’s really critical right now” to give the six communities whose boundaries include the National Seashore a say in land development, protection of natural resources, and other issues. He adds:
“Created by President Kennedy, the Cape Cod National Seashore is one of the crown jewels of my district. Today I am again honored to play a role in continuing President Kennedy’s work with this legislation. By reauthorizing the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission, the communities of the Outer Cape will retain their voice in the seashore policies that directly impact them. I will keep fighting for the commission so that they can get back to their important work.”
Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), sponsor of this bill’s Senate companion, says:
“National parks are known as one of America’s best ideas. I will continue to fight so that the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission can continue as it has been to inspire the millions of visitors it welcomes every year.”
Richard Delaney, president of the Center for Coastal Studies and federally appointed chairman of the advisory commission, says this legislation is “critically important.” He notes that the commission hasn’t met for over a year now since its previous authorization ran out on September 26, 2018, and that the commission needs to be re-established to confront an array of management issues on the Cape Cod National Seashore. These issues include sharks, the use of drones and electric bicycles, erosion, and sea level rise.
Delaney testified in favor of this bill at a House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks meeting:
“[This bill] would simply reauthorize the Cape Cod National Seashore for another ten years and allow [the commission] to exist. It’s a necessary step. Congressman Keating has been terrific. He filed the bill early on this year. It’s a commission that’s been in existence for over 60 years. I said to Congress it really was the key to the establishment of Cape Cod National Seashore because frankly, there was a lot of local opposition to a federally run organization that overlays many of the towns here. Hopefully, before too many months go by we have a reauthorized committee and then we’re back to the kind of push and tug with the Department of the Interior about when and how to schedule meetings.”
The Trump administration expressed opposition to this legislation as recently as Spring 2019, when then-National Parks Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith repeated the Dept. of the Interior’s (DOI) recommendation from December 2018 that the commission should either not be reauthorized, or its scope of responsibility should be reduced.
DOI had previously sought to eliminate a clause in the law establishing the Cape Cod National Seashore that requires the Interior Secretary to consult with the commission for permission for commercial uses and establishment of recreational areas.
This legislation unanimously passed the House Committee on Natural Resources. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), has one Senate cosponsor, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
In February 2019, Sens. Markey and Warren also introduced an amendment on the Senate floor to the Natural Resources Management Act (S.47) which would have reauthorized the commission. However, the resolution wasn’t accepted.
Last Congress, this legislation passed the House by unanimous voice vote, but didn’t receive a Senate vote after the Trump administration objected to parts of the proposed legislation. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Markey and cosponsored by Sen. Warren, didn’t receive a committee vote. At a Senate subcommittee hearing on the Senate version of this legislation in the 115th Congress, then-National Parks Deputy Director Smith said that if the Senate passed the legislation, it should be with an amendment to reduce the unusual statutory role that the commission has in park management decision-making.
Of Note: The Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission was established in 1961. It includes representatives from six towns, an appointee by the Massachusetts governor, two people representing the state of Massachusetts, one person representing Barnstable County, and a chairman appointed by the Interior Secretary. The commission provides citizen input to the Interior Secretary about matters related to the Cape Cod National Seashore on issues including permits for commercial use of property in the Seashore to the use of personal watercraft.
Since the Trump administration undertook a review of advisory commissions across the country in 2017, the advisory commission has struggled to receive the federal permission that it needs to hold meetings. Consequently, it has only met three times since 2017 (typically, it meets with the Seashore superintendent four to six times a year).
Summary by Lorelei Yang
(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / KenWiedemann)