This Weekend, Yosemite Could Be “NOsemite”; Republicans Turn Moratorium Myth into Reality
WASHINGTON (April 6, 2011) – Due to the potential House Republicans’ forced government shutdown, for the first time since early 1996, America’s national parks and Smithsonian museums may shutter this weekend, canceling plans for countless American families. Hundreds of oil rig inspectors could be sent home, threatening the safety of workers. And any permitting of new resource development would stop, turning a Republican-created moratorium myth into reality.
These are just a few of the impacts to programs overseen by the Natural Resources Committee caused by the Tea Party-fueled budget brinkmanship gone awry, and doesn’t include concerns over health care, federal workers, passports, or many other government-run functions.
President Obama and Democrats have proposed significant and responsible budget cuts in an effort to meet House Republicans more than half way.
House Republicans would shut down our national park system, and the Smithsonian Institution museums in all 50 states.
“This weekend, Yosemite might turn into ‘NOsemite’, as our national treasures would close their gates and send American families away,” said Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee. “House Republicans are telling the American families who would like to walk in one of our National parks this weekend to ‘take a hike’. These forced closures could devastate the already fragile local economies of small communities which depend on national parks for tourism dollars.”
“For House Republicans, the Tea Party is more important than the Tetons,” said Markey.
Currently there are about 500 people involved in inspections and safety decisions for offshore drilling operations under the authority of the Department of Interior. During the shutdown in 1995, only six people could be retained for this purpose. Similar staffing cuts could be expected in the current shutdown, putting rig workers across the country at risk.
“Eleven rig workers died in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and now the number of inspectors looking after the safety of America’s rigs could be fewer than that under this potential Republican government shutdown,” said Rep. Markey. “The potential Republican-forced shutdown would cause inspectors to stand down from their duties, putting countless American energy workers at risk.”
For months, Republicans have tried to create the “Myth of the Moratorium,” even as energy production in the U.S. reached robust levels. With the potential Republican-created government shutdown, they would turn their own myth into reality, as the permit process for energy resource development would screech to a halt.
The potential Republican shutdown would end permitting of new oil, gas, coal, mining and other resource development on public lands. And when it comes to collecting royalties from current resource development, the American taxpayer could see reduced return on private development of public lands. There are approximately 200 people currently overseeing offshore royalty management and collection. During the shutdown in 1995, four people were overseeing offshore royalty management. With similar staffing, royalty collection could be curtailed.
“With this government shutdown of their own creation, Republicans have brought their myth of the oil moratorium to life,” said Rep. Markey. “This lockdown of the government really would lock up America’s energy resources.”
“House Republicans rejected my plan to lower the deficit by ending sweetheart deals for big oil companies. Now, national parks have to close so these loopholes can stay open,” concluded Markey.
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