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  • Beth Burrows
    Dear Friends, About two weeks ago the US National Parks Service (NPS) issued a 600+ page Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on bioprospecting and
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 16, 2009
    Dear Friends,

    About two weeks ago the US National Parks Service (NPS) issued a 600+
    page Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on bioprospecting and
    "benefits-sharing" in the US national parks. For us, this amounted to a
    last chapter in our fight against bioprospecting in the national parks.

    Basically, we learned that the bioprospecting - commercial and
    otherwise - has been going on in US national parks for years and the
    only thing "new" was the very faulty "benefits sharing" plan NPS was
    offering. Attached below is our press release about the proposed
    benefits-sharing plan and a pdf of the letter we sent to the director
    of the National Park Service.

    I am not attaching the pdf for the FEIS. It is way too large. But if
    you'd like it, let me know and I will send it to you.

    Although there are many things wrong with the FEIS, the commenting
    process is over. With the FEIS, the NPS has technically fulfilled the
    judge's requirements from our long-ago Yellowstone court case.

    Once the "benefits sharing" plan is okayed by the head of the NPS, it
    will move into implementation. Thus, we felt, a letter to the head of
    the NPS was in order.

    To the more than 9,000 people and organizations who made comment to NPS
    three years ago about "Parks Not for Sale", we send our thanks. You
    thousands helped make a national discussion out of what began as a
    secret deal. We'll be contacting some of you soon about further
    actions. (Oh no, it's not over. Only Phase One is over.)

    With gratitude,
    Beth Burrows
    Edmonds Institute
    20319-92nd Avenue West
    Edmonds, Washington 98020
    phone: (001) 425-775-5383
    email: beb@...
    website: <http://www.edmonds-institute.org>

    * * * * * * * * * *

    For Immediate Release:  Wednesday, December 16, 2009

    Contact:  Kirsten Stade [PEER] (202) 265-7337, Beth Burrows [Edmonds
    Institute] (425) 775-5383, Michael Garrity [Alliance for Wild
    Rockies] (406) 459-5936, George Nickas
    [WildernessWatch] (406) 728-5733, George Kimbrell
    [ICTA] (415) 826-2770

    Secret Corporate Royalty Plans Force Parks to Eat High Administrative

    Washington, DC - A pending scheme for profit-sharing with those who
    extract and make money from organisms taken from the national parks has
    crippling problems, according to a critique issued today by the Edmonds
    Institute, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER),
    Alliance for Wild Rockies, International Center for Technology
    Assessment (ICTA), and Wilderness Watch. The "Benefits-Sharing" plan
    will cost the National Park Service (NPS) more money than it raises,
    prove utterly impractical to operate, and compromise both resource
    protection and ethical principles.

    Under the plan, awaiting final approval from NPS Director Jon Jarvis,
    any of the nearly 400 national parks could enter into a
    "benefits-sharing agreement" with a "research collaborator" for
    monetary or in-kind compensation for any profits derived from park
    resources. In order to maximize revenue, the agency and its "preferred
    alternative B2" - hereafter referred to as B2 - allows those with whom
    NPS makes B2-like deals to keep royalty and/or other financial terms
    shielded from public or Congressional review.

    Noting that NPS has other and better ways of gaining benefits for the
    parks, the objecting groups argue that the B2 plan, which has been in
    the works since 2001, has big drawbacks for national parks and the
    taxpayers, including -

    • Meager financial returns more than offset by high administrative and
    technical assistance costs, all of which would come out of the Park
    Service's budget;
    • Corporate revenues earmarked for the park that was home to the
    original resource and superintendents facing uncomfortable choices
    between protecting resources from exploitation and maximizing their
    particular park's income; and
    • Public backlash and loss of NPS reputation over allowing the
    financial nitty-gritty of "benefits sharing" to be kept from public and
    Congressional view

    "This is a full employment plan for consultants on the taxpayer's
    dime," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "Rather than
    supporting research or conservation programs, national parks will lose
    net revenue under this plan for a least a decade - and might never turn
    a profit."

    Much of the interest in the "benefits sharing" plan revolves around
    "bioprospecting" - particularly research derived from microorganisms
    drawn from unique park settings, such as geysers. At Yellowstone
    National Park, a bioprospecting benefit-sharing agreement resulted in
    considerable consultant and administrative costs ($359,000 over two
    years, according to records obtained by PEER under the Freedom of
    Information Act). The cost of that deal exceeded the "mid-range"
    estimate for system-wide revenue that NPS projects from all such
    agreements after five years under its "preferred" B2 plan.

    "At the start of all this, we wondered whether NPS plans were legal,"
    said Beth Burrows, head of the Edmonds Institute, lead plaintiff in the
    suit that forced public examination of the original Yellowstone
    bioprospecting arrangement. "Now we wonder, whether they are wise or
    even smart. No one loves a business park."


    Read the groups' letter to NPS Director Jarvis:
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