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Bill To Fix National Parks Would Use Energy Revenue

Grand Canyon tourists
Laurel Morales/KJZZ
file | staff
In 2017, 330 million people visited national parks.

Nine members of Congress introduced a bill Wednesday that would use revenue from energy produced on federal lands and waters to pay to fix national park infrastructure

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and members of Congress, including Republicans, Democrats and one independent, proposed using this fund to address the National Parks’ $11 billion backlog in repairs of roads, trails and buildings. 

The Grand Canyon’s maintenance backlog alone is more than $300 million. That includes replacing a pipeline that delivers water to the south rim.

Grand Canyon Trust spokesman Roger Clark said if the federal government is going to use revenue from coal and gas, then Congress is shirking its responsibility.

“We’re in essence robbing Peter to pay Paul and that’s not how it should be,” Clark said. “Our Congress needs to take responsibility of fully funding the infrastructure needs of our national parks without pillaging the rest of our public lands to provide revenues to do that.”

But supporters of the bill said it provides funding from unutilized resources to keep national parks and their surrounding communities economically viable.

Laurel Morales was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2011 to 2020.