Alexander: "Smokies closing is like a BP oil spill for the Gulf"

WASHINGTON (WVLT) — Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander wants to reimburse the states which pay to keep national parks open. Last Friday, the Republican said the closings were "like a BP oil spill for the gulf."

"This is the prime tourist season for the Smokies, when many of the small businesses around the park make most of their money," he argued.

Alexander's bill would require the federal government to pay back all of the state funds spent keeping the parks open during the government shutdown within 90 days.

"I voted against shutting down the government, and I'm doing all I can to reopen it," said Alexander. He added that assuring the states that they would be reimbursed for "reopen(ing) our national treasures is a good step in the right direction."

His office said the shutdown, now in its 15th day, has affected several parks in addition to the Smokies, including: Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park.

Fellow Tennesseans Phil Roe and John Duncan, Jr., have introduced similar legislation over in the House, according to Alexander.

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