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Sportsmen: House should reject bad energy bills

National coalition says H.R. 2 will undermine important reforms aimed at safeguarding fish, wildlife, hunting and fishing on public lands

WASHINGTON – A national sportsmen’s coalition expressed frustration Thursday that the U.S. House is recycling harmful legislation that would gut oil and gas leasing reforms on public lands and constrain public input into managing valuable fish and wildlife habitat.

Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development sent a letter to House members urging them to reject H.R. 2, a rehash of bad bills that would undermine measures aimed at balancing energy development and conservation of public lands.

Hunters and anglers welcomed the leasing reforms the Interior Department announced in 2010 as a response to drilling’s impacts on fish, wildlife, water and air quality and hunting and fishing opportunities. The package of bills revives repeated attempts to roll back safeguards for our public lands and prioritize energy development over all other activities.

“Cancelling the Interior Department’s 2010 leasing reforms does nothing but move us backwards – and away from properly balancing energy development with fish, wildlife, and water resources, as well as our more than $1 trillion dollar annual outdoor recreation-based economy,” said Ed Arnett, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Center for Responsible Energy Development. “Our public lands are a public trust. They’re intended to support a wide range of uses and must be managed responsibly so future generations can enjoy and benefit from them as we have. These bills violate that trust.’’

Other measures opposed by the SFRED coalition would squelch public input by charging people $5,000 to file lease protests and torpedo a commonsense approach to oil shale production that requires companies to show they have viable, environmentally sound technologies before proceeding with projects.

“Given the high stakes of land management decisions for hunters and anglers, it is essential that we have a say in how those decisions are made. H.R. 2 makes it harder for concerned sportsmen and -women to participate in achieving the needed balance between energy development and the outstanding hunting and fishing opportunities provided by our public lands,”  said Keith Curley, director of government affairs for Trout Unlimited.

SFRED encouraged the House to consider bipartisan proposals that enjoy broad public support and would allow responsible energy development on public lands while safeguarding fish, wildlife, hunting, fishing and other recreation important to sustaining local economies and the nation’s outdoor traditions.

“Instead of holding yet another vote on partisan legislation to roll back needed reforms of BLM’s onshore oil and gas program, perhaps the House of Representatives could find time to take action on the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act, bipartisan legislation to achieve goals strongly supported by the American people,” said Kate Zimmerman, public lands policy director for the National Wildlife Federation.

Hunters and anglers don't want to see oil and gas leasing reforms on public lands rolled back. Photo by John GaleHunters and anglers don't want to see oil and gas leasing reforms on public lands rolled back. Photo by John Gale

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