Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Trump's New EPA Administration and the Economic Possibilities inside National Parks

I must begin with an apology for entering this topic at such a late date, and will discuss this in greater detail at the SWEET meeting regarding blog discussion.

On January 30 of this year, a H.J. Res. 46 was entered into the House by Rep. Paul Gosar [R] of Arizona. The joint resolution goes as follows:

Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the final rule of the National Park Service relating to “General Provisions and Non-Federal Oil and Gas Rights”.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the National Park Service relating to “General Provisions and Non-Federal Oil and Gas Rights” (81 Fed. Reg. 77972 (November 4, 2016)), and such policy shall have no force or effect.

Voting has yet to take place.

If this bill passes, it will weaken the protection that National Parks currently in place, and allow for an increase of mineral/oil extraction. As of this writing, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Michigan has already experienced exploratory drilling for minerals by a Canadian company.

Questions to Consider:
1) Do the economic prospects outweigh the environmental impact on our National Parks?
2) Will we see this increase in Alaska under Trump's administration?
3) Is this how Alaska pulls itself out from under our growing state deficit?
4) Will this ultimately be in Alaska's best interest?

Food for thought:


  1. 1. As it is a national park, I do believe that more care should be taken, more penalties imposed on accidents, more attention paid to minimizing disruption, and more restrictions placed on business activities. That said, if the project still make economic sense, I think it should be allowed to happen.

    2. It is my understanding that Obama did a lot of work to ban drilling offshore and in parks in Alaska. I can't imagine that Trump wouldn't like to reverse these bans. I am not sure what sort of ability he has to do so.

    3. No, this isn't how Alaska pulls itself out of a budget deficit. The budget deficit is now (technically, even last year). Any sort of oil exploration would take years to fruit.

    4. I think this is ultimately in Alaska's best interest, as long as we can look at the business activity and reasonably surmise that it has benefited Alaskans more than whatever other opportunities we lost when we made the decision to allow businesses to operate in these areas.

    All in all, I do think the environment should be protected to the best of our ability, but I don't think it should mean we ignore opportunities.

    1. I thought it was interesting when Sophie stated that she was generally open to development of Pebble Mine, but she would be worried about possible ramifications to her property nearby. I think this is a good point. I think decisions like this should be determined by people with some skin in the game, namely the people of the state vs. outside (Alaska) interest groups.

  2. All oil is good oil. Who needs parks anyway?

  3. 1. this is a difficult question, because it can be difficult to properly evaluate the value of a national park, especially because of intrinsic values and existence values. if we had a reasonable way of assessing those values, and then we compared that to the benefit that may come from opening the area for exploration.

    2. if this bill passes there could definitely be some impacts in Alaska, but they may be curtailed by preexisting regulation from the state.

    3. this wont solve Alaskas budget problems. the problem is that we have all our eggs in one basket, so even if we put more eggs in that basket at some point in the future, it won't create any more stability for our state.

    4. i feel like there is more benefit to be had in other areas of development, but this could be helpful.