September 2, 2021

The Honorable Joe Manchin
Chairman, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Raul Grijalva
Chairman, House Natural Resources Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

CC: Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Dear Chairmen Manchin and Grijalva,

We are writing on behalf of over 1,900 members of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks (Coalition), a non-profit organization composed of retired, former, or current employees of the National Park Service (NPS). The Coalition studies, educates, speaks, and acts for the preservation of America’s National Park System. As a group, we collectively represent over 40,000 years of experience managing and protecting America’s most precious and important natural and historic resources. Among our members are former NPS directors, regional directors, superintendents, resource specialists, rangers, maintenance and administrative staff, and a full array of other former employees, volunteers, and supporters.

We, the undersigned, are writing to request that significant reforms to our onshore oil and gas leasing program are included in your committees’ recommendations under reconciliation. Responsible management of our national parks and public lands requires updates to the leasing program that would help to protect our parks, ensure the health and safety of local communities, promise a fair return to taxpayers, and eliminate waste and fraud in the program.

The $4.7 billion dollars included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 is a vital first step in plugging and cleaning up orphaned oil and gas wells and we are grateful for your committees’ work in actively moving a number of reform bills through regular order. But we believe that several reform proposals that have been considered in one or both of your committees are important priorities that could be included in the current reconciliation proposals moving forward.

Specifically, we believe that proposals updating federal oil and gas bonding standards and minimum bids, rents, and royalty rates; ending non-competitive leasing; and ending the leasing of lands with low or no potential for oil and gas development must form the basis for these important reconciliation priorities.

To ensure that the investments intended under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 are sufficient and federal support is not needed into the future, it is essential that Congress acts to prevent future orphan wells by ensuring that oil and gas companies meet their legal obligation to plug and remediate their wells by updating the outdated bonding requirements placed on oil and gas developers. There are hundreds of these orphan wells located near national parks, placing irreplaceable resources at risk.

The owners of our public lands, the American people, are also receiving far less than state or private owners for the oil and gas extracted on public lands due to inordinately low royalty rates, minimum bids, and rents charged in the federal onshore oil and gas leasing program. The federal onshore royalty rate has not changed since 1920, while rental rates and minimum bids have not been updated since the 1980s.

Finally, a practice of non-competitive leasing on public lands has allowed oil and gas companies to speculatively lease lands for next to nothing, preventing other productive uses such as outdoor recreation, while often not ever developing the land. Congress should act to end the practice of selling leases without a competitive bid. Prioritizing federal leasing on productive lands and away from low or no-potential lands will also help to end speculative leasing.

Updating these pieces of the onshore federal oil and gas leasing system would be a significant step forward in bringing industry into the present. It would help to protect national parks that are located near oil and gas leasing and protect local and frontline communities from health and safety hazards. These measures would also potentially raise billions of dollars in a fair return to taxpayers and would move the industry away from practices that incentivize waste and fraud.

Thank you for your commitment to our parks and public lands and we appreciate your attention to this issue.


The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks Executive Council:

Phillip A. Francis, Chair
Maria Burks, Vice Chair
Michael Allen
Sarah Allen
Brenda Barrett
Sarah Bransom
Russell Galipeau
Rebecca Harriett
Don Hellmann
Michael Murray
Don Neubacher
Jim Northup
Richard Ring
Chris Soller
Sheridan Steele


Coalition Members:

Malena Kay Vik
Alan D. Hollister
Alan Scot McElveen
Alexander J McMahon
Alfred J Poole
Alister R. Shanks
Allen Bohnert
Amy Meyer
Amy Vanderbilt
Ann Baugh
Ann Rasor
Anne Cronin Moore
Anne Worthington
Audrey Faye Calhoun
B. J. Griffin
B. Riley McClelland
Barry T. Sullivan
Bill Jackson
Bill Pierce
BJ Dunn
Brian A Hoduski
Brian Adams
Brian James MacDonald
Bruce Douglas McKeeman
Carl Hinrichs
Carl L. Stapler
Carla McConnell
Carol A. Clark
Charles "Chuck" H. B. Arning
Charles A. Bentley
Charles Schultheis
Cherry Payne
Cheryl Schreier
Christopher Seymour
Chuck Bloomingburg
Claudia L Galagan
Colin C. Hastie
Cordell Roy
Craig C. Axtell
Crystal Muzik
Cynthia Holda
Dan Moses
Daniel J. Jenner
Daniel M OBrien
Daniel Taylor
Dave Mills
David B Shaver
David B. Boggs
David Barna
David C Hartman
David D Roberts
David Donohue
David Given
David H Wallace
David Holmes
David M, Graber
David Manski
David Nathanson
David R. Stuart
David Scott Hartwig
Dawn Foy
Dean Reeder
Deb Pfenninger
Deborah E Peck
Demica Vigil
Denis Davis
Denis M. Osowski
Denis P. Galvin
Dennis Burnett
Dennis Divoky
Denny Huffman
Diane E. Banta
Dick Falb
Dixon Freeland
Donald a Falvey
Donald Bruce Fladmark
Donald Fox
Donald L. Jackson
Donna Williams
Dorothy Ann Davis
Douglas Denio
Doyle Nelson
Dr. Patricia Corry
Edward D Carlin Sr
Edward Peter Walzer
Edward S. Kalbach
Edwin A. Hession
Elizabeth Snyder
Elizabeth Van Zandt
Emily Prud'homme
Emily Thompson
Eric Shane Gottlieb, PhD
Frances J. Rutter
Fred J Fagergren
Gary E. Davis
Gary G. Brandow
Gene Casey
George Alderson
George E. Buckingham
Gilbert E. Blinn
Ginny Rousseau
Gregory Gnesios
Hal J Grovert
J. Douglas Cuillard
James Campbell,PhD
James L Hummel
James M. Brady
James P Groton, Jr.
James Perkins
James Phillip Corless
Jane Anderson
Janet Wise
Janet Wolf
Jay Wells
Jeff Manley
Jeff Maugans
Jerry L. Case
Jerry Pendleton
Jervis D Swannack iii
Jim Brandi
Jim Poole
Joan Anzelmo
John E Hunter
John Howard
John Morris
John P. Debo, Jr
John Paige
John Phillips Ritenour
John Reynolds
John Richard Erisman
John S. Chao
John W. Osgood
John W. Wade
Jonathan B Halpern
Joseph H. Finan
Judith Hart
Julia Thomas McNamee
Karen Rehm
Katherine C. Ziegenfus
Katherine Stevenson
Kathleen Clossin
Kathryn Sue Brett
Keith B Dunbar
Kenneth E. Apschnikat
Kent Cave
Kim E. Sikoryak
Kyle Joseph Hudick
Larry Lee Hakel
Larry N Kilborn
Larry Walling
Laura Rotegard
Laurel Munson Boyers
Lawrence A Lang
Leon Lamar Folsom Jr
Linda Finn
Linda Jayne Alick
Linda L. West
Linda M. Ladd
Loretta Neumann
Lucy Lawliss
Lynda Doucette
Lynn D. Jamison
Marcia Keener
Maria Abonnel
Maria Thompson
Mark Butler
Mark J. Kelleher
Mary Anne Richards
Mary Dorinda Partsch
Mary G Martin
Mary Graves Budak
Mary Jones
Mary Miller Chapman
Matthew A. Ross
Max W. Old Bear
Michael Adlerstein, FAIA
Michael D Watson
Michael K. Johnson
Michael Molling
Michael Piraino
Michael Rees
Michael Sutton
Michael Tollefson
Mike Wrigley
National Parks Conservation Association
Neil and Chris Korsmo
Nelson Siler
Nicholas J Eason
Norman Hellmers
Pamela Underhill
Patricia Ashley
Patricia Bentley
Patrick Reed
Paul B Cole, III
Paul Henderson
Paul R. Anderson
Paulette Mullinax
Peter Baril
Peter D. Rhyins
Peter J. Fitzpatrick
Peter K. Nigh
Phil Brueck
Phil Selleck
Phyllis Ellin
R. Kurt Rhodenbaugh
Randi Smith
Rebecca M. Post
Rebecca Mills
Richard C. Curry
Richard D Falb
Richard E Wells
Richard Ernenwein
Richard G Littlefield
Richard Martin
Richard Wallace Gregory
Rick Jones
Rick L. Mossman
Rick Smith
Ries Collier
Robert D Dunnagan
Robert G Burns
Robert Joseph Abrell
Robert L. Arnberger
Robert P. Martin
Robert Valen
Roberta Barrows
Roberta D'Amico
Ronald G. Warfield
Ronald Thoman
Sam Weddle
Sandi Kinzer
Sanford P. Rabinowitch
Sarah Peskin
Scott Chapman
Sharon C Miles
Sharon Paris
Sherry V. Justus
Shirley & Robert Clark
Stephen Underwood
Stephen W. Hastings
Steve Bruner
Steve Moore
Steve Pittleman
Steven Harrison
Steven Kesselman
Sue Consolo-Murphy
Sue Jennings
Ted Stout
Terrence D. Moore
Terry Michael Di Mattio
Terry Savage
Lynn R. Wightman
Thomas A. Cherry
Thomas Griffiths
Thomas L. Habecker
Thomas M. Lorig
Thomas P. Workman
Thomas W. Sweeney
Timothy J. Oliverius
Todd Bolton
Tom Haraden
Tom Ribe
Tom Vaughan
Tonnie Cummings
Travis Poulson
Vito Spinale
Walter J Chavez
Wayne T. Jipsen
Wendy Poinsot
Wendy S Artz
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