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Oil and Gas Management

Man asks survey questions at Yosemite National Park.
Aerial view of an oil well site, Padre Island National Seashore, TX

The U.S. Congress charged the National Park Service with the responsibility of preserving and protecting the natural and cultural resources of the the National Park System for current and future generations (National Park Service Organic Act; 16 U.S.C. §1 et seq.). In carrying out this mandate, the National Park Service must contend with the development of existing private mineral rights that predate establishment of the units.

In the National Park Service Organic Act and the acts that established individual park units, the Congress authorized the Secretary of the Interior to develop regulations for managing and protecting units. Based on these authorities, the National Park Service promulgated regulations at 36 CFR Part 9, Subpart B, that govern the exercise of nonfederal oil and gas rights in park units.

The "9B" regulations require prospective operators to obtain National Park Service approval of their plans of operations and to secure reclamation bonds before they commence operations in a unit. The plan details all activities of the oil and gas development, describes how reclamation will be completed, and provides the basis for calculating performance bonds. The National Park Service uses the information to determine the effects of proposed operations on the environment, visitor uses, and park management. Once approved, the plan serves as the operator's permit. Because of regulatory exemptions, about 60% of the 534 nonfederal oil and gas operations in 12 units are outside the scope of the 36 CFR 9B regulations, that is, their operators do not have to obtain approval from the National Park Service to operate. The NPS has begun a rulemaking effort to improve the overall effectiveness of the regulations, including the elimination of these exemptions and making the 9B Regulations applicable to additional operations in park units to protect park resources and values.

Related Links

Key Contacts

Ed KassmanEd Kassman, J.D.
Regulatory Specialist
Geologic Resources Division
12795 West Alameda Parkway
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
303-969-2046 (office)
Contact - Ed Kassman

Lisa NorbyLisa Norby
Energy and Minerals Branch Chief,
Geoscientist-in-the-Parks & Mosaics in Science Program Manager
Geologic Resources Division
12795 West Alameda Parkway
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
(303) 969-2318 (office)
Contact - Lisa Norby

Geologic Resources Division Mailing Address
National Park Service
Geologic Resources Division
P.O. Box 25287
Denver, Colorado 80225-0287



Last Updated: April 14, 2014