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Are their disputes over oil rights in National Parks?

National Parks are mostly protected land. This may lead Californians to think they do not face any risk for oil and gas drilling. However, while federal law does currently offer some protection, the future of oil rights in National Parks may be changing. According to the National Parks Conservation Association, there is a current review of the rules regarding oil and gas development in National Parks.

Specifically, 9B rules are what are currently under revision. These rules help to determine surface and mineral rights. In some cases, some National Parks have areas where the government owns the surface and companies own the mineral rights. This creates some issues because the company that owns the mineral rights cannot access the oil or gas beneath the surface that it rightfully owns if the government says it cannot drill. The 9B rules tries to help reach a compromise to allow the government to protect the parks while also allowing companies rightful access to the minerals beneath the land.

There are active oil wells on National Park land currently and additional sites that have not yet been drilled. The changes to the 9B rules may have huge impacts on whether the government can deny drilling. Typically, companies must also pay money to help provide funds for closing the wells when the drilling is complete, but this requirement may be waived. Furthermore, companies wanting to drill currently have to pay access fees, but under 9B rule changes, they would no longer be required to do that. These changes could negatively affect the Park system, but could positively help the oil and gas industry in this country.

 

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