Alexander: “Unprecedented” White House Support for Bipartisan Bill to Rebuild Parks with Federal Energy Revenues

Posted on March 7, 2018

 

*Click here or on the photo above for video of the senator’s full remarks.” 

“The significance of the proposal we are introducing today is that,  to my knowledge, it has never happened before – the president, his Office of Management and Budget and his Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are recommending Congress provide mandatory funding paid for by revenues from energy production on federal lands for the national park maintenance backlog. This is something that everyone who cares about our national parks –which documentary maker Ken Burns calls, ‘America’s best idea’ – should welcome and support.” – Lamar Alexander

 

WASHINGTON, March 7, 2018 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said on the Senate floor that bipartisan legislation he introduced – along with eleven members of Congress – is the first significant proposal where the president, his Office of Management and Budget and his Interior Secretary recommend Congress provide mandatory funding paid for by revenues from energy production on federal lands for the national park maintenance backlog.

“Our bipartisan proposal will help restore and rebuild our national parks by helping to pay for the $11 billion maintenance backlog in our national parks. Here’s how it will do this: the legislation will use revenues from energy production on federal lands to provide mandatory funding for the maintenance backlog at our national parks. This is a well-established conservation principle: taking some of the money created by an environmental burden and using it for an environmental benefit,” Alexander said. “The significance of the proposal we are introducing today is that, to my knowledge, it has never happened before -- the president, his Office of Management and Budget and his Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are recommending we provide mandatory funding paid for by revenues from energy production on federal lands for the national park maintenance backlog. This is something that everyone who cares about our national parks –which documentary maker Ken Burns calls, ‘America’s best idea’ – should welcome and support.”

Today, Alexander – along with U. S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) Joe Manchin (D- W.Va.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Representatives Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) introduced the National Park Restoration Act.

Alexander continued: “This legislation will help address the $215 million backlog of projects in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Last year, the park broke its own record by welcoming over 11 million visitors to the park. These visitors come to enjoy the majestic views the park has to offer, explore its trails and visit its campgrounds.  …We must do more to get funding to the Smokies – and all our national parks across the nation -- to help address its maintenance needs and repair and rebuild our campgrounds, trails and roads. Restoring these campgrounds, trails and roads will bring more tourists and jobs to East Tennessee – and to national park communities throughout the country.

“In Tennessee, the outdoor recreation economy generates 188,000 direct jobs and over $21 billion in consumer spending. In 2016, the visitors to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park alone spent nearly $950 million in communities surrounding the park. The over 11 million visitors to the park supported nearly 15,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in economic output in these communities. Restoring our parks not only helps to preserve our land for generations to come, but also helps to grow our economy throughout the country.”

Alexander concluded: “We will put our heads together and come out with the best possible bill – something President Trump can continue to support, and the Senate and House of Representatives can pass. Hopefully we can sign a bill into law that will allow us to go to work on the maintenance backlog by the end of the year. …We must all work together to restore our national treasures so future generations have the same opportunity to enjoy them as we have.”

Alexander’s full prepared remarks are available here.

The National Park Restoration Act:

  • Creates the National Park Restoration Fund to provide mandatory funding for the high-priority deferred maintenance needs that support critical infrastructure and visitor services at our national parks. 
  • Provides mandatory funding for the maintenance backlog on top of annual appropriations for operations and construction at the National Park Service.
  • The fund receives 50 percent of onshore and offshore revenues from energy production on federal lands over expected amounts that are not already allocated to other purposes. 
  • Protects payments to states, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Reclamation Fund, and all other existing uses of onshore and offshore revenues. These existing uses will receive all of their funding before the National Park Restoration Fund receives any funding.

 

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