Americans are being cited for entering national parks during the government shutdown and ordered to appear in federal court. But drilling and logging companies are meeting no obstacles when they continue doing business on supposedly shuttered public lands.
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation, thinks that's pretty unreasonable. Last week he complained about the disparity in a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell:
Despite the federal government shutdown making national parks, monuments, wildlife refuges and many other important sites unavailable to the public, oil and gas drilling and other extraction activities continue on our federal public lands. The lack of oversight of these potentially hazardous activities greatly concerns me, especially because of the scarcity of manpower to respond to emergencies, pollution issues or other rapid response needs.
I am equally concerned about the many businesses that rely on our public lands. Concessionaires that operate facilities within our public parks and other federal lands have been locked out by the shutdown. So have river and trail guides who rely on public lands and waterways to make a living. Small businesses cannot afford to be cut off from their main -- in some cases sole -- source of income.