Senator Lee opposes parks act
Oct 04, 2018 | 668 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Utah’s Sen. Mike Lee opposes a new bipartisan bill that would divert royalty money from drilling and mining on public land to help pay for the more than $11 billion backlog of maintenance needs at national parks throughout the country.

Lee sits on the Senate Energy Committee, which is discussing the bill this week. He doesn’t support the Restore Our Parks Act because it takes about $6.5 billion from the general U.S. treasury without offsetting the new spending with cuts, he said. Lee’s spokesman on Monday, Oct. 1 said, “Senator Lee does not support the Restore Our Parks Act because it is not paid for.”

Currently, a portion of royalties from mineral extraction — coal, natural gas, etc. — flows directly to the U.S. treasury. The proposed act, which is sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, and supported by his three Utah House colleagues, all Republicans, would steer $6.5 billion over five years to national parks to help rebuild bridges, pave roads and upgrade trails, sewer systems and buildings.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, isn’t sure whether he will support the bill but backs the concept.

“While Senator Hatch shares concerns about the cost, he welcomes continued dialogue about long-term investment in national park infrastructure in Utah and around the country,” Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock told the Salt Lake Tribune. “He looks forward to working with his colleagues to find responsible ways to pay for this critical investment as the bill continues forward.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited just one of Utah’s national parks last week—Zion–to garner support for the act. He toured an aging campground and highlighting maintenance problems there.

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