Pombo proposes selling off parks to make point about Arctic Refuge

A draft bill being circulated by Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), chair of the House Resources Committee, advocates selling 15 national preserves, historic sites, and monuments to help shrink the federal budget deficit. The proposal also recommends selling ads on National Park Service brochures and maps, finding private sponsors for Park Service trails and museums, and leasing oil and gas rights on the outer continental shelf. Pombo’s committee staff estimates the sell-offs would raise about $2.4 billion over five years — which, not at all coincidentally, is what the Congressional Budget Office estimates the feds would reap from selling drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge over the same period. “This document was intended to illustrate … that the chairman feels we have no choice but to open [the refuge],” said a Pombo spokesflack. Democrats and enviros are not amused. “Instead of cutting pork projects, Congressman Pombo would rather sell parks and national monuments,” said Phil Clapp of the National Environmental Trust.