Environment

Koch-backed Group Calls for End of National Parks

The National Park Service has been systematically starved of funds, which suits the Kochs just fine.

Yosemite National Park
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

The National Park system is broke, argues Reed Watson, the executive director at the Koch-backed Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) in an op-ed, so the only thing to do about it is stop creating national parks. Because, of course, actually funding them is out of the question.
"True conservation is taking care of the land and water you already have, not insatiably acquiring more and hoping it manages itself," the op-ed reads. "Let's maintain what we've already got, so we can protect it properly," it concludes.
Of course "hoping it manages itself" was never the aim of Congress in creating national parks, which is why they also created the National Park Service to manage them. The fact that the Service is horribly underfunded and has a huge backlog of projects is because a Republican-dominated Congress has starved it. That's part of the whole destroying government in order to prove that government doesn't work agenda. But in terms of the parks, it's part of the Kochs' real agenda:
While the authors seem to push for "true conservation" from the federal government, in reality, PERC has a long history of advocating for the privatization of America's national parks and other public lands, and has significant ties to the Koch brothers and fossil fuel industries. […]

In addition to arguing for no new national parks, PERC's op-ed also calls for an end to one of America's best parks programs, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). LWCF is a budget-neutral program that uses funds from offshore oil and gas development fees to fund federal, state and local outdoor projects across the country. The program has been used to support some of America's most iconic national parks, including the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, and has helped create tens of thousands of outdoor projects such as local parks and baseball diamonds in all 50 states. […]

PERC and its oil and gas allies have also ramped up involvement in an extreme right wing campaign to give control of America's public lands to the states and sell them off to the highest bidder. In March, PERC released a study that claimed to provide economic evidence to support the transfer of national public lands to state control. The study was widely cited in a series of nearly identical op-eds written by a front group for the oil and gas-backed public relations firm of Richard Berman, nicknamed “Dr. Evil” by consumer-protection and organizations he has targeted.

It just kills the industry and its allies that there's any scrap of land that they can't get their hands, or more precisely their drilling rigs, on. National heritage, and clean air and water, be damned. This isn't about taking care of the parks that we do have. It's about stealing them.
 

 

Joan McCarter is a Daily Kos staff writer.