At a press conference in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke welcomed Montana Senator Steve Daines along with Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander and six other senators to propose legislation use revenues from energy production on federal lands to help pay for the over $11 billion maintenance backlog at the parks.
Senator Alexander introduced the concept.
“What we’re announcing today is a bipartisan proposal supported by the President of the United States and the Office of Management and Budget that over the next ten years could eliminate the $11.6 billion dollar deferred maintenance backlog in the 417 national parks of our country,” said Alexander.
Secretary Zinke said this concept is the only way to catch up on the billions of dollars worth of road repairs and overall maintenance that the parks require.
“This again is unprecedented in scale,” said Zinke. “The President is committed to making sure we put the money and the investment long term, and it is all energy, it is not just oil and gas. The program is primarily gas off-shore,” said Zinke.
Senator Daines said the overcrowding in Yellowstone Park alone is indicative of the problems facing so many of the country’s national parks.
“The problem we have in Yellowstone is that the parking lots are all full, you pull over to the side of the road, there’s not even a shoulder to park on,” said. Daines. “The roads are struggling, the infrastructure is struggling, water, sewer, employee housing, it’s time to act.”
The proposed ?bill would? use up to $18 billion in revenue derived from energy produced on federal lands and waters to? establish a special fund within the Treasury specifically for “National Park Restoration”.