While a great deal of public attention addresses the Halliburton loophole of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and Bureau of Land Management efforts to regulate hydraulic fracturing on public lands, less attention has been paid to the National Park Service “9B Regulations,” which provide a national regulatory framework governing the exercise of nonfederal oil and gas rights in national parks. This article begins with a review of law pertaining to oil and gas drilling in national parks. The article examines the tension in striking a balance between environmental protection, conservation of national lands and achieving energy independence, including National Park Service proposals to revise the 9B regulations. The article concludes that because it is impractical to purchase the mineral rights in NPS units, it is critical to revise the 9B rules to: (1) create protocols that bring exempt operations within the 9B regulations; (2) raise the bond and financial assurance requirements; (3) create access and user fees that reflect fair use; (4) allow administrative fines to be assessed for minor violations; (5) ensure all drilling meets modern safety standards including measures to preclude park damage after well closure; (6) require a baseline environmental assessment as a permit condition; and (7) require operators to map and record in land records the exact location of all pipes and other equipment installed in the land.
Geltman, Oil & Gas Drilling in National Parks, 56.1 Natural Resources Journal 145 (Winter 2016)
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