Oct. 6, 2005 – Conservationists and current and former National Park Employees are warning the public that the California Congressman who recently won House passage of legislation altering the 30-year-old Endangered Species Act is floating a new idea to sell as much as 23 percent of national park land to oil and gas companies.
According to a draft of the legislation obtained by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, Republican Richard Pombo is seeking to sell off sixteen national parks as part of a broad plan to trim $2.4 billion over five years. The bill also calls for the sale of Alaskan nature preserves and expanding oil drilling off the coast of California.
A spokesperson for Pombo said the proposal is designed to encourage legislators to support drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), the San Francisco Chronicle reported last month.
"This document was intended to illustrate not just for leadership but for members of the House that the chairman feels we have no choice but to open [ANWAR]," Pombo spokesperson Brian Kennedy told the Chronicle.
In a statement last week, the park retireesâ€™ coalition warned that Pomboâ€™s proposal is really part of a "full-scale assault being waged today by Washington against our national parks." The group also took issue with a portion of the bill that would raise $20 million by selling off the naming rights to various pieces of National Park Service property.