Biden’s war on fossil fuels may reduce funding for America’s national parks, according to the Western Energy Alliance, a nonprofit energy industry association for the U.S. West.
The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), which was passed in August 2020, provides $1.9 billion for public lands and national park restoration, primarily from onshore oil and gas development on federal lands.
The act combined the restoration and Land and Water Conservation funds, which supplies $900 million in matching grant money for state and local parks.
No Federal Oil
Biden campaigned on a promise that he was going to eliminate the oil industry, and since taking office he has taken more than 100 steps to make good on that promise. Net-zero goals, if achieved, will replace all coal, oil and gas with wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy.
If that happens, the alliance claims, the royalties from renewable industries operating on federal lands would only generate $11.5 million for the restoration fund.
Biden “promised no federal oil at all. That was his campaign pledge,” Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, told Cowboy State Daily. “Now, he ran into this nasty thing called the law.
“But if his policies were taken to their logical conclusion – no more federal oil and gas would be allowed – then there would be no funding for the Great American Outdoors Act.”
Biden had placed a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing, but a judge in the Western District of Louisiana issued a permanent injunction against the Biden administration. The ruling concluded that the moratorium took steps reserved for Congress and violated the Mineral Leasing Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
Of the $1.9 billion in funding for the GAOA, 70% goes to the National Park Service to reduce deferred maintenance in national parks. The rest goes to various agencies that manage federal lands.
The GAOA provided $204 million in funding for projects in Yellowstone National Park, including repairs to historic buildings and roads to the Old Faithful geyser. The fund may also support repair projects from last summer’s floods.
The fund also provided $145 million for projects in California’s Yosemite, and $219 million for projects in Blue Ridge, which straddles the North Carolina and Virginia border.
Sgamma said royalties from oil and gas production on federal land will support the restoration fund for some time. Existing leases will continue to produce for a while, but as production at those wells decline, the royalties will evaporate.
“The president’s preferred wind and solar contributes basically nothing to conservation,” Sgamma said.