For the more information about the geologic resources of the National Park Service, please visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/.
Oil and Gas Management
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 the units and new mineral rights in the few units where federal mineral leasing is permissible.
In the National Park Service Organic Act and the acts that established individual 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 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 50% of the 668 nonfederal oil and gas operations in 11 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.
- 9B Rulemaking (Current effort to revise and update 9B regulations)
- 9B Regulations [PDF]
- 9B Operator's Handbook
- NPS Minerals Management Policies [PDF]
Pat O'Dell, PE
Ed Kassman, J.D.
GRD Mailing Address
Last Updated: November 14, 2013