News Release Date: September 2, 2016
Contact: Jeffrey Olson, 202-208-6843
WASHINGTON – The National Park Service (NPS) today released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) supporting revisions to oil and gas regulations governing private and state-owned oil and gas rights that exist in parks of the National Park System. The oil and gas regulations, called the 9B regulations, were promulgated more than 37 years ago and have never been updated.
The FEIS publication in Federal Register initiates a 30-day "no action" period. The FEIS is available at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/FEIS9B. NPS intends to publish a Record of Decision and Final Rule in late fall, but no sooner than October 3.
There are, currently, oil and gas operations in 12 of 413 parks of the National Park System. The updated regulations address gaps in the current regulations that limit the NPS' ability to adequately protect park resources and values, and visitor health and safety, including:
- 60% of operations (319 operations) are exempt from complying with the 9B regulations.
- A cap on financial assurance ("bonding" –currently set at $200,000 per operator, regardless of the number of operations) results in inadequate coverage to ensure proper site reclamation.
- Lack of an effective enforcement tool to address minor acts of noncompliance.
- No authority to require compensation for operators' new use of federally owned land outside of their oil and gas right.
Key updates to the rule include:
- Elimination of two regulatory provisions that exempt 60% of the oil and gas operations in parks of the National Park System. All operators in parks of the National Park System, except in Alaska, would be required to comply with the 9B regulations.
- Elimination of the financial assurance or bonding cap.Financial assurance would be equal to the reasonable estimated cost of site reclamation.
- Improvement of enforcement authority by incorporating existing NPS penalty provisions. Law enforcement staff would have authority to write citations for noncompliance with the regulations.
- Authorization of compensation to the federal government for new access on federal lands outside the boundary of an operator's mineral right.
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 413 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at www.nps.gov, on Facebook www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice, Twitter www.twitter.com/natlparkservice, and YouTube www.youtube.com/nationalparkservice.