Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), chairman of the powerful House Resources Committee, is circulating a proposal that, among other things, calls for the federal government to close and sell up to 15 national parks to the oil and natural gas industry and private developers.

The measure, which Pombo is seeking to include in the budget reconciliation package, would require the national parks that are located throughout the United States to be sold off and opened to development by 2010, said Craig Obey, vice president for governmental affairs at the National Parks Conservation Association in Washington, DC.

In addition, it calls on the Interior Department to establish by October 2006 procedures for producers to enter into natural gas-only leases within 125 miles of coastlines; the federal government to share 50% of Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) receipts derived from leases located on portions of the Gulf of Mexico OCS within 125 miles of coastlines with states; and sets the stage for states that currently bar production off their coasts to conduct offshore leasing, pre-leasing and related activities with respect to natural gas off their shores, according to a copy of the 285-page draft obtained by NGI.

It also would require the first competitive oil and gas lease sale on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to be held within 22 months of the enactment of the measure.

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