House bill could encourage drilling in 'split estate' national parks - SNEWS

House bill could encourage drilling in 'split estate' national parks

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A Republican representative from Arizona has introduced a bill that may threaten national parks where mineral rights are not owned by the federal government.

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park is a so-called "split estate," where mineral rights underground are owned privately, while the land surface is owned by the federal government. // Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Arizona Representative Paul Gosar has introduced a bill that would undermine protections for national parks against oil and gas drilling.

About 40 national parks have "split estate" ownership, in which the federal government owns the surface of the land, but not the oil and minerals underground. Gosar's bill seeks to repeal rules that require detailed planning and safety standards for drilling within national parks, which would make it easier to drill, according to a news release from the National Parks Conservation Association.

“These challenges are direct attacks on America’s national parks," said Nicholas Lund, senior manager of NPCA's conservation programs, in a statement. "Each of these rules provides the commonsense protections for national parks that millions of Americans demand. If the Park Service’s drilling rules are repealed, national parks across the country would be subjected to poorly regulated oil and gas drilling, threatening parks’ air, water and wildlife. These attempts to weaken protections put our parks at risk."

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