Park Service’s midnight-hour rule change benefits Telecom

The eliminated policy was designed to keep the public in the loop about new cell towers.

 

An Arches National Park visitor uses a cellphone. In January 2021, the Park Service eliminated a policy that required it to inform the public about new applications for cell towers.

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BACKSTORY 
Broadband internet has become essential infrastructure — a fact that telecom corporations repeat ad nauseum. It’s also become a contentious issue for the National Park Service, which advocates say is shepherding companies like AT&T and Verizon into the backcountry (“Wiring the Wild,” March 2020). While reliable internet is abundant for some and scarce for others, particularly rural communities, critics are calling the agency out for encroaching on some of the last places in the country free from Big Tech and its profiteering.

FOLLOWUP 
In January 2021, under the Trump administration, the Park Service eliminated a policy that required it to inform the public about new applications for cell towers and allow it to appeal right-of-way approvals. Now, attorneys from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility say this new blow to transparency gives private corporations privileges that are simultaneously denied to the public. The watchdog organization is calling on the agency to restore public participation in a process that it says has consistently favored corporate interests.

Theo Whitcomb is an editorial intern at High Country News. Email him a [email protected] or submit a letter to the editorSee our letters to the editor policy.

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