September 20, 2012
I urge your support for a bipartisan bill, H.R. 5987, to designate the Manhattan Project Historical Park. I’m honored to sponsor this bill with the support of Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and Rep. Norm Dicks. The National Park Service and Interior Secretary Salazar have endorsed the establishment of such a park to tell this important piece of our nation’s history.
Under the bill, the historical park may include three locations that were integral to the tremendous engineering innovations of the Manhattan Project and that tell the human story that made this top-secret project during World War II into a reality. The three locations are the Hanford site in Washington state; Los Alamos, New Mexico; and Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
The vast majority of the facilities at these locations that are eligible to be included in this Park (specified in the bill) are already owned by the federal government – and they are located on lands owned and controlled by the Department of Energy. Our nation already possesses these pieces of history and the real purpose of this bill is to officially declare the importance of preserving this history, providing access to the public, and include the unique abilities of the Park Service to help tell this story.
Currently, historic facilities slated for inclusion in this Park are officially scheduled to be destroyed at considerable federal taxpayer expense. Local community leaders and interested citizens have worked to coordinate a commitment to preserving this piece of our history, which is achieved in HR 5987. The government will save tens of millions of dollars by preserving these facilities rather than paying for their destruction. While the CBO score accounts for the annual cost of providing public access and administering the park, which will come from within the Park Service’s existing budget, it does not account for the tens of millions that the Department of Energy will save from not having to pay to dismantle historical structures.
Finally, this legislation sets a new standard for property rights protection. Condemnation is explicitly prohibited. However, this legislation goes further by prohibiting any property from being included in the boundaries without landowner consent. No funds are authorized in the bill for the federal government to purchase buildings or land.
If you, or your staff, have any questions, please free to contact the Natural Resources Committee at 6-7736.
Chairman, House Natural Resources Committee
Read the full Dear Colleague HERE.