Commentary: DENVER—President Trump tonight proposed an infrastructure plan that tries to sugar coat his administration’s attack on America’s parks and public lands. The Center for Western Priorities released the following statement from Executive Director Jennifer Rokala:
“President Trump’s half-baked plan only adds insult to the injury of crippling National Park Service budget cuts he proposed last year. While there are few details, it appears the White House is prepared to sell off American public lands to pay for this infrastructure plan and gut environmental safeguards to push projects through. Our public lands need real investments, not a scheme that benefits the president’s developer friends while starving, then selling out America’s crown jewels.”
Early estimates show that the president’s combined budget and infrastructure plan would cut $1.69 for every $1 it spends. The National Park Service says the president’s proposed budget would lead to 1,242 full-time equivalent jobs being cut across our parks, leading to reduced services and closed facilities, including campgrounds.
A leaked draft of the infrastructure plan calls for the “Disposition of Federal Real Property” and allows for the executive branch to unilaterally oversee the “disposal of Federal assets.” If that language remains in the final infrastructure plan, it will make good on the official GOP platform which calls for giving away American public lands.
The leaked proposal also called for major changes to America’s bedrock environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act, and Clean Water Act, while giving Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke sole authority to approve natural gas pipelines across our national parks.
The Center for Western Priorities is a conservation policy and advocacy organization focused on land and energy issues across the American West.