WASHINGTON – An environmental group is upping the pressure on the Department of Interior to end drilling and other activities on national parks and public lands during the government shutdown, arguing that allowing those operations to continue violates federal law.
In a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewel, the Center for Biological Diversity argued Wednesday that the drilling violates the Anti-Deficiency Act, the law barring federal workers from working during the shutdown.
"[I]t is contradictory and illegal to restrict public access to public lands such as the National Parks, Wildlife Refuges, Offshore Areas, and Bureau of Land Management Lands, while allowing environmentally degrading private activities to occur on those same lands," wrote Bill Snape, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity. "We can't hike, camp or enjoy our nation's public parks and monuments. But grazing, mining, logging, and oil and gas extraction continue in many cases without disruption, even though the shutdown has sent home many who enforce regulations designed to protect our lands and wildlife."
Snape wrote that the group plans to file a writ of mandamus and/or complaint in federal court "to stop these lawless extractive activities on our public’s lands."
Other groups have also been petitioning the government to stop drilling and gas operations during the shutdown.