How Might The National Park System Fare Under A "President Romney"?

With Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, vague on details concerning his plans for reducing the federal deficit and shrinking government, speculation is running heavy, and it's not encouraging for the National Park System.

Though Mr. Romney's website doesn't go into specifics, it does say that when it comes to domestic energy exploration, he supports developing the country's "cornucopia of carbon-based energy resources."

And that's a concern to more than a few folks.

The Center for American Progress last week speculated that a Romney administration would place at least five national parks in danger -- Theodore Roosevelt, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Grand Teton, and Arches -- with its domestic energy plans. Gas and oil development is on the doorstep of Theodore Roosevelt, uranimum interests want more access to the public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon is threatened by a coal strip mine, Grand Teton is bordered by a national forest with significant natural gas resources, and Arches also is surrounded by potential energy resources, the Center noted.

A Romney presidency would no doubt be welcomed by some Western governors and lawmakers who resent federal ownership of large parts of their states and believe the lands should be relinquished to the states.

In Utah, to cite perhaps the most strident example, Gov. Gary Herbert and the Legislature are demanding that the federal government give to the state by the end of 2014 some 30 million acres of public lands for the state to manage or sell as it saw fit. A similar movement is under way in Arizona, where a November ballot initiative calls for the state to gain "sovereignty over federal public lands in Arizona, including Grand Canyon National Park."

The platform the GOP adopted at last week's national convention calls for much the same, stating that "Congress should reconsider whether parts of the federal government’s enormous landholdings and control of water in the West could be better used for ranching, mining, or forestry through private ownership."

At The Wilderness Society, Nada Culver earlier this year voiced her organization's concerns over efforts to rekindle a Sagebrush Rebellion in the West.

"It's hard to believe it could happen," Ms. Culver said of the states' efforts to gain control of federal lands.

While supporters of these efforts have in some areas created a perception that "this is some kind of groundswell of local opinon," she went on, "it's certainly our experience that that's not a groundswell of local opinion and that there's plenty of opinion around all of these states of people who value these lands for what they are and what they represent."

Driving the movements, offered Ms. Culver, is "a small group of people, some of whom are in it because they see a value. There are people who see the short-term benefit to themselves, if you're an oil and gas company that would like to do some tar sands leasing in the Grand Staircase-Escalante (National Monument), which seems to have a host of these draws, I think you see the short-term benefit and you miss the long-term benefit to the community and to the West."

At the same time, the Obama administration has tried to work with Western states to both preserve areas worth preserving while also allowing multiple-use of the federal landscape, she said.

"This administration has bent over backwards to try to look at what local communities want on the federal lands," said Ms. Culver. "They were calling it the Crown Jewels initiative where (Interior Secretary Ken) Salazar reached out to every state in the West, every county commissioner, all the (congressional) delegations, the tribes, asking for input on places that they would like the federal government to protect as wilderness or other legislative areas, and everybody but Utah I think put in a few areas. That was this administration trying to avoid that stigma and trying to say 'we can continue to do this collaboratively' and really trying to overcome that problem. So I think that's not a legitimate fear right now, that any administration is going to come in and try to overrule everybody locally. I think that lesson's been learned."

At the National Parks Conservation Association, David Nimkin said the Utah legislation, although it would allow the federal government to retain control of national parks in the state, could in theory allow energy development right up to the parks' boundaries.

"We look at national parks increasingly as parts of larger landscapes, and even the idea of buffers is even insufficient to contemplate how the parklands fit into larger eco-regions," said Mr. Nimkin, the advocacy group's Southwest regional director. "So the idea that you would have really dramatically alternative uses on public lands immediately adjacent to the national parks is really quite terrifying."

Such possibilities could be in direct conflict with the National Park Service's stated desire to "(P)romote large landscape conservation to support healthy ecosystems and cultural resources."

"If they (the state) could have a freer hand on where you drill, where you mine, where you graze, enabling more off-road use, etc., without having to go through the dreaded NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process or any of that stuff, I think they would feel that they could develop a much higher level of ongoing revenue, not just a one-time benefit from a land sale."

Beyond land use, there are increasing concerns that budget decisions by a Romney administration would hamstring the Park Service, among other federal agencies and programs.

At Bloomberg News, writer Richard Rubin said the Republican's promise to balance the budget would lead to national parks, federal housing programs, and other entitlement programs and federal services being forced to absorb a 25 percent funding cut.

"By putting Social Security off limits to cuts, promising to boost defense spending by as much as much as $150 billion a year, and holding the line on taxes, all other spending would have to take a hit of about 29 percent by 2016, by one estimate. If that were spread across-the-board, it would translate to 8,000 fewer employees to staff and maintain the national parks..." wrote Mr. Rubin.

Until the Romney team makes its intentions better known, concerns over how public lands are managed and funded can't be minimized.

Comments

With the “businessmen’s philosophy”, my guess is that Romney would nominate a corrupt “James Watt type” to promote the will of corporations over the long term good of the environment and the Park Service as a whole.

Until the Romney team makes its intentions better known on a lot of fronts, Americans need to be very wary of voting for him. Trouble is, not all Americans are making an effort to learn about him and may well vote without much thought based mainly on TV ad propaganda.

Shen4me: You mean the rediculous "kill children and starve old people" mantra? My guess is that Romney/Ryan would honor both the Parks and put people back to work in reasonable ways that are effective. Time for reason. We've gone to long without it.

Might look back to GHW Bush and his contributions to the environment and received absolutely no credit.

Do the math. Massive tax cuts, mostly at the top end of the brackets, with undisclosed spending cuts excluding or even increasing Defense and supposedly Social Security along with the closure of undisclosed loop holes (mortgage interest, medical deductions anyone?). The discretionary budget (exempting defense) in the Ryan plan is cut about a third. Interior will be cut at least a third as it does not have the lobbyists that Ag and Transportation have.

BTW, don't forget that Yellowstone has been threatened in the past by threats of nearby drilling.

And what has Obama done for the Parks, or environment? About the same as Clinton... who went 8 years doing nothing, and at the last moment, when there were no political consequences, threw us a few bones.

Speculation is a great game to play. One 'should' look at the history of environmental laws and see which party did the most...

NPS maintenance backlogs have existed since I graduated in 1980 and started working for the Parks... neither side has ever addressed these needs.

Perhaps you missed the biographical film at the Republican National Convention in which Romney said that his favorite childhood memories were trips to the National Parks with his mom and dad. There were photos of young Mitt at various park sites.

Look, there would be no change except that more people would have jobs and more money to actually visit a park. And those ugly windfarms and big solar installations that are a blight on the landscape would no longer get an environmental pass from the administration.

The “businessmen’s philosophy” would be to bring industry and environmentalists together to work out sane, economical policies and practices, while balancing environmental challenges. I would imagine the use economic tax breaks to enviornmentally friendly businesses who rise to the challenge. I don't see industry as a cometititor to natural resources, but a steward if properly moviated.

The air surrounding the parks would definitely get worse, as coal is Romney's friend as it brings jobs, and who cares about the air quality as long as you have jobs, right?


Until the Romney team makes its intentions better known, concerns over how public lands are managed and funded can't be minimized.


But they sure can be exaggerated. Can't attack actual policies so you have to make them up instead?

I can tell you that the America's Great Outdoors is a success for the National Wildlife Refuge System. The EPA is finally doing it's job after 8 years of inaction.

Right, the smog will keep you from seeing the turbines or solar collectors as Romney like tar sands and coal, as they bring jobs (and emphysema).

Anonymous, I wonder if Mitt's kids have the same memories. I doubt it. Mitt's father had a reputation for standing up for reasonable environmental standards in Michigan, even if it got him in hot water with the industrialists in the party. While the Cayahoga River was burning next door in Ohio, no such disasters were unfolding in Michigan. He also stood up and opposed drilling in Lake Michigan while in office as well as after he left office.

Romney is the ultimate etcha-schetch. He is so vague that people can read into him what they want to and only hope. Quite frankly, given his previous policies in Massachusetts, now refuted, each of his policy pronouncements should come with an expiration date.

Keeper, by Bush's contributions to the parks, are you referring to Paul Hoffman or Fran Mainella?

And Green Salsa, how much money might it require to get those businesses "properly motivated?"

I don't have a dollar figure, I am talking about a philosophy of environmentalists and business working together--identifing better technology, methods, and manners to reduce and eliminate pollutants and giving business' that cooperate a real tax credit (like we do home owners who write off their mortgage interest) in order to keep good paying jobs HERE as opposed to sending them overseas to countries with NON EXISTENT environmental standards and exploit the poor.

As much as I find both Romney and Ryan distasteful, in simple truth their rhetoric has relied on two things and two things only. Evasion and Untruths. Given their evading of direct answers and policy proposals, and their widespread lying, it is impossible to truly project what they will do for any of the non-profit margin agencies based on what they say, other than wild-ass-guess.

My personal W.A.G. is horriffic.

Shen4me: You mean the rediculous "kill children and starve old people" mantra? My guess is that Romney/Ryan would honor both the Parks and put people back to work in reasonable ways that are effective. Time for reason. We've gone to long without it.

GreenSalsa, that's what I took from your first post, but the question remains valid. It's unfortunately much too rare an occurance when an industry puts cooperation with others ahead of its bottom line. It does happen, but not very often.

Even if the Romney-Ryan ticket is elected and tries to pursue a scorched-earth policy against federal discretionary spending, as I think the Ryan plan calls for, major institutional obstacles would loom in the way. Unless the Republicans had 60 votes in the Senate, for instance, bills could be filibustered.

Still, someday Congress and the President may be bent on paring back the National Park System and have the votes to do it. Which is why the National Park Service is wise to be doing small things now to widen its base of support, like proposing a mountain bike singletrack trail at Big Bend National Park. A support structure that relies on a band of somewhat elderly and almost exclusively Caucasian traditional recreationists—the type who favor hiking and canoeing only—won't hold down the roof if an ideological hurricane blows. So the NPS is doing the right thing to reinforce the structure now, while the winds are relatively calm. I think it can do this without ruining the parks by allowing even more motor-dependent mass tourism in them than already exists.

Lee Dalton--you have to remember what industry is in the business of--making money. They are "living breathing organizations" that need to make a profit. If US business continue to have to deal with enviornmental issues (without some level of compensation) then they will take their business overseas to survive. There are lots of countries out there that don't place any level of enviornmental protection as a standard. I think we (the US) would do better to invest in OUR business through tax credits to keep people working here.

Honestly the biggest problem is not with business, but with the average citizen who is driven soley for the cheapest product. If you believe in a product, AND THE MANNER IT WAS MANUFACTURED, we (the US population) must be willing to support that product with our checkbooks.

Agreed, Green. That's why I try very hard to find things Made In America. (But it sure is difficult.) And it's why I don't shop at WalMart.

Although I agree with you, and realize that companies need to make a profit, I also know that any company that commits to doing it can do their work in an environmentally responsible manner. If a company decides to work with the environmental regulations rather that fight them, they can -- and do -- profit. It's more a matter of attitude than anything else. The excuse that there are other countries that don't bother with environmental concerns is a hollow cop-out. It's like saying "Those people aren't wearing safety belts in their car, so I won't do it either."

That's why I also try to learn which local businesses are environmentally responsible and do all I can to patronize them.

Romney/Ryan would be the best thing that could happen to America and our parks. Obama is killing our country economically. Parks do no one any good if you cannot afford to go. Time to get back on track. Don't buy into the media propoganda that the left is always "right" and the right is "dangerous." Simply not true. Our nation has never been more divided than it has the last 4 years under the "rule" of the "great uniter."

Seeing how Romney is clueless as to the extent of the predicted impacts of global warming, it can't be good for the world.

Richard

Could you provide Romney's statements on global warming predictions that warrants you calling him clueless? I suspect he is quite aware how wrong those predictions have been to date.

Romney/Ryan would be the worst thing that could happen to America and our parks. Congress is killing our country economically. Parks do no one any good if you cannot afford to go. Time to get back on track. Don't buy into the media propoganda that the right is always "right" and the left is "dangerous." Simply not true. Our nation has never been more divided than it has the last 4 years under the "rule" of the "make Obama a one-term President" Congress led by the likes of Mitch McConnell and John Bohener.

But the stock market and those who can afford to invest are doing very well. GM is still alive and more oil leases have been opened to bidding than under any previous administration. Environmental laws are still being enforced. Thousands of jobs were saved which delivered America from the depths of a real depression. All Americans finally have at least the opportunity to obtain health care and health insurance without being forced into bankruptcy. Despite the fact that most of the increased spending that is blamed on Obama actually comes directly from policies placed by previous administrations, the actual rate of increase of Federal spending is the lowest it has been since the Reagan administration.

It's frustrating that with so many sites available where facts can be checked against claims made by candidates and radio personalities, so few people make the effort to learn the truth.

If we could just get Congress to try to do what would be best for nation rather than doing their best to uphold extreme ideology rather than what is best for the country, then we might actually be able to look forward to a secure and safe future. Based on what we've heard from the candidates who are courting the extreme right, the chances of that are very slim if those guys actually win. America, our people and parks, will be the losers.


GM is still alive


As is Ford which did it without robbing stock and bond holders and paying off the unions while losing $billions of tax payer dollars.


and more oil leases have been opened to bidding than under any previous administration.


Newly leased acreage on public lands is a fraction of prior years. The last four years were half the prior four. http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/wo/MINERALS__REALTY__AND_RESOURCE_PROTECTION_/energy/oil___gas_statistics/data_sets.Par.80157.File.dat/table05.Pdf


Thousands of jobs were saved which delivered America from the depths of a real depression. All Americans finally have at least the opportunity to obtain health care and health insurance without being forced into bankruptcy


Net new jobs have grown a paltry 300,000 over Obama's term, we have experienced the slowest recovery on record and unemployment has been over 8% for one of (if not the) longest periods on record. Everyone has access to health insurance (as they always did) but now healthcare will prove to be quite elusive.

Meanwhile this President has ignored the basic principles of the Constitution and of the capitalist system which have made this country great and prosperous. It was this system that allowed us to build the greatest national park system in the world. As Brad noted, our parks can only be strong if our economy is strong. Obama's policies can only weaken both.

"Meanwhile this President has ignored the basic principles of the Constitution and of the capitalist system which have made this country great and prosperous."

Someone has absorbed too much propaganda. Try using some fact checkers -- even though Mr. Romney says, "Our campaign will not be driven by fact checkers."

Lee please identify which of my facts are wrong.

"Which of my 'facts' is wrong?"

Your comments, opinions not facts, about President Obama ignoring the Constitution kinda jump out in neon, in particular compared to his immediate predecessor. I would hate to find out which principles of capitalism you True Believers value.

Well, for a starter, there is: "As is Ford which did it without robbing stock and bond holders and paying off the unions while losing $billions of tax payer dollars." Is that a fact or opinion? There is a very strong argument to made that those dollars were not lost at all, but helped hold our county's nose above water.

Then there is: "Newly leased acreage on public lands is a fraction of prior years. The last four years were half the prior four." There is a difference between leasing and bidding. In addition new well starts on previously leased lands are up by about 4x.

Or, "Net new jobs have grown a paltry 300,000 over Obama's term." Perhaps if counting only new jobs. The question of how many other jobs may have been saved from extinction is not easily quantified.

And, "we have experienced the slowest recovery on record" Hmmmm. Depends entirely upon subjective evaluation. Wasn't the Great Depression a slower recovery that would probably have dragged on much longer if Hitler and Hirohito had not provided a different kind of economic stimulus?

"Everyone has access to health insurance (as they always did)" Always did? Yeah, if you were able to afford it and had no pre-existing conditions or things the companies refused to cover.

Are you sure that "but now healthcare will prove to be quite elusive" is a fact or is that an unproven assumption driven by conservative radio talkers?

You say, "Meanwhile this President has ignored the basic principles of the Constitution." Interesting. Can you tell us exactly which basic principles have been ignored? The Supreme Court doesn't seem to think so.

"capitalist system which have made this country great and prosperous" Perhaps -- yet how much has that system contributed to the recession we now face? Did the system fail us when it allowed bankers to gamble with depositors' dollars?

And finally, "Obama's policies can only weaken both." Is that a proven fact? Or is it an opinion tossed out to gullible listeners by those who stand to profit from their blather?

Remember, there is a big difference between FACT and OPINION, RUMOR, and SPECULATION. Be careful not to fall for the trap being set for us by those who would stand to prosper in some way from tearing down the middle class.

The wrong people have Romney's ear about national parks and public lands. The makeup of his transition team already shows that mountain-state Republicans are in charge. It is led by former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, who in 2003 hatched an agreement with Bush's Interior Secretary, Gale Norton, that no more Bureau of Land Management public lands anywhere in the West could ever be studied or recommended for protection as wilderness. That was reversed by Ken Salazar, but not before several BLM plans were approved in the final years of the Bush administration ruling out wilderness status for millions of acres in the wild canyon country surrounding Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Glen Canyon.


Is that a fact or opinion?


The losses are fact, it is only "saving the economy" that is opinion or speculation.


Then there is: "Newly leased acreage on public lands is a fraction of prior years. The last four years were half the prior four." There is a difference between leasing and bidding. In addition new well starts on previously leased lands are up by about 4x.

Yes, leasing leads to drilling, bidding does nothing. BTW can you source your bidding claim? And of those well starts, how many were on public land where O has any influence? Fact is the increase was on private lands while public activities declined. http://cnsnews.com/news/article/number-new-oil-wells-and-new-leases-have-decreased-under-obama-data-blm-show


Did the system fail us when it allowed bankers to gamble with depositors' dollars?

Not at all. Nothing goesstraight up, cycles are a natural part of the process. Unfortunately, this recession was worsened by government interference. By the way, gambling with depositor dollars had nothing to do with the crisis. You need to learn the difference between consumer banking and investment banking.

Is that a proven fact

It was expressed as opinion but the last three+ years would seem to establish as fact.

Hard to discuss anything with someone whose mind is locked.


Unfortunately, this recession was worsened by government interference.


Unbelievably misinformed statement. Wow.

Misinformed? Really? Are you familiar with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? How about the Community Reinvestment Act? All government involvement that exaserbated if not created the recession. You and Lee can make dismissive statements (with no backup). I will stick with the facts.

"You need to learn the difference between consumer banking and investment banking."

So do the banks.

Anonymous and others: You just have to let Lee go. He's been drinking the cool aid and feels no need to change his drinking habits unlike the millions that are out of work and those that see through the fraud. $16 "Trillion" and growing at a "Trill+" a year equals collapse and that's a fact. Is there any chance that those lucrative Gov't retirement plans may also be at risk? All the jobs that were saved were union jobs (campaign slush fund) while private bond holders were ruined. Makes me sick!

It is "drink the Kool-aid", not 'cool aid', and it most accurately refers to those here pushing RNC talking points from behind 'anonymous' labels.

Sorry Rick, it is you, Lee et al with the talking points. I have posted specifics with links to back them up. All we get from your clan is dismissive statements. Lee - about those bidding numbers?

Editor's note: Our new spam filter, while overall doing a fantastic job -- more than 13,400 spam comments blocked in the past 13 days!! -- sometimes it gets a little overly sensitive. The following comment was blocked. If you've had trouble with the spam filter, forward your comments to us and we'll post them.

"How might NPS fare under Romney/Ryan? Appears to me the country of which NPS is included should enter the conversation at some point. I spend most of my time in the National Parks and love them but I wonder how the NPS might fare in a calapsed economy with our debt holders holding the cards. A strengthening economy will do wonders for everyone, including the NPS. More taxes generated, etc.

Oh and Rick B., your response is pretty typical. Dire collapse in our future and you talk grammar. That is very Leftest (sp:).

Cheers

Rich

That was only part of the problem, surely you understand that synthetic CDOs issued by the big banks had far more to do with it. If anything, the government did not regulate the derivitives market strongly enough (actually at all).

"All the Devils Are Here" summarizes this quite nicely.

A large part of trying to find any understanding of the truths and lies floating about is that it's possible for anyone with an agenda to find supporting "evidence" on both sides -- and in some cases, from sources so far out in space that any credibility is completely lost. I just tried and failed to locate one I spotted about a month ago in which there were diatribes against supposed Federal restrictions on energy development right alongside fables about how contrails from jets are caused by some sort of government/United Nations plot to poison all of us.

But here, for whatever they may be worth, are a couple of potentially truthful items:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/08/25/romney-would-open-federal-lands-to-drilling-how-much-oil-and-gas-is-there/

This one requires a lot of digging, but seems credible:

http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/energy/oil_and_gas/statistics.html

What policies? - Nothing is defined.

Stop the BS & provide proof. Unless, like normal, you do not have any (Fox does not count).

How about judging the character and motivations of those making the statements. At some point does one need to believe a liar to feel warm and fuzzy inside? Goes for everyone really but specifically the two in the spotlight (and their minions).

Which two "in the spotlight" is Connected referring to? Personally I think his preferred candidates are a clear and present danger not only to the national parks but to the planet itself. Now off to visit some civil war and civil rights parks (all part of the same theme) to get away from the in-fighting for a few days.

Romney would slash federal discretionary spending. There's quite simply no doubt that a Romney/Ryan administration would mean huge budget cuts for the NPS, USFS, BLM and other public lands agencies, forcing perhaps thousands of layoffs and a dramatic reduction in visitor services and resource management.

If that's what you want, fine, but be honest about it. Don't pretend that Romney is a friend to the NPS.

wow lee, surprised you linked the BLM data. Table one shows the dramatic decrease in activivity on fed lands since Obama took over yet not long ago you were talking about him hitting record levels.

Anon2

Tell us why were the banks able to cell CDOs? Answer: because there was a pseudo govt guarantee. If Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac didnt exist CDOs would not have existed. It was government interference not lack of regs that created the crash.

Lee, It really doesn't matter what they state their position is on public lands, his position changes daily. You can not trust what they say. The Romney/Ryan ticket is wrong because we can't trust what they say.