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Sportsmen:Proposed energy bills would limit public involvement

Draft pushes ‘pay to have a say’ approach to permit decisions

By Randy Scholfield

WASHINGTON (Wed., June 6, 2018) – A coalition of sportsmen’s groups today questioned draft legislation that would make it more difficult for sportsmen and women to comment on oil and gas lease sales on public land.

Under one of the draft bills, to be discussed at a June 6 Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee hearing, the Interior Department could impose a “filing fee” on those submitting administrative protests of oil and gas lease sales, permit-to-drill applications and issuance of right-of-way grants. The “base filing fee” for protests of 10 pages or less would be $150, with “an additional assessment of $5” for each additional page, and “$10 per additional lease parcel,” according to the discussion draft. Wednesday’s hearing will also consider three other discussion drafts that seek to fast track permitting and curtail the process used to determine if a project should be “categorically excluded” from further environmental review and public comment.

Representatives of Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development issued the following statements:

“It is already difficult for the American public to be thoughtfully involved in the decision- making processes that lead to energy development on public lands, even when these decisions put our best hunting and fishing areas at risk,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Instead of further minimizing the input of hunters and anglers, we ask lawmakers to give sportsmen and women a better seat at the table and for more transparency in public land management decisions.”

“Most sportsmen and women believe we can balance responsible energy development with hunting, fishing and other uses of our public lands, but it takes thoughtful planning and consideration of all the resources,” said Aaron Kindle, the National Wildlife Federation’s senior manager of Western sporting campaigns. “When it takes decades or longer for habitats to recover from irresponsible development, it’s more than reasonable to ask for prudent deliberation and appropriate safeguards. These bills are the opposite of that and should be rejected.”

“Sportsmen and women who value their public lands want a voice in the permitting process,” said Corey Fisher, senior policy director for Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project. “Limiting public comment and creating a ‘pay to have a say’ system will affect the very people who know these lands best. We can have both responsible energy development and conservation, but this requires that everyone affected—landowners, state and local governments and public lands users—gets a fair shake and a say in the management of our public lands.”

Sportsmen and women are concerned about proposals that would make it more difficult for the public to comment on oil and gas drilling on public lands. Image: Jessi JohnsonSportsmen and women are concerned about proposals that would make it more difficult for the public to comment on oil and gas drilling on public lands. Image: Jessi Johnson

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