Statement: Congress Must Reject Shortsighted Public Land Bills

NWF, HECHO: Congress Must Reject Shortsighted Public Land Bills

Proposals Would Prioritize Energy Development on Public Lands, Muzzle the Public

DENVER (June 6, 2018) – Bills aimed at fast-tracking oil and gas leasing and drilling on public lands would discourage public involvement and prioritize energy development to the detriment of wildlife, hunting and fishing and other activities, the National Wildlife Federation and HECHO said.

The House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources is taking testimony today on four bills intended to advance the Interior Department’s efforts to remove obstacles to energy development on public lands. One would charge members of the public at least $150 to protest oil and gas leases.

Tracy Stone-Manning, the National Wildlife Federation’s associate vice president for public lands, said:

“Americans think protecting clean air and water, wildlife, and places to hunt, fish and camp is important to future generations. But some in Congress and the administration see upholding these values as nothing but an impediment to fast tracking drilling and mining. They should know better and reject these shortsighted bills.”

Camilla Simon, director of HECHO, Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors, said of the proposal to charge the public for filing a protest:

“We’ve been asking for commonsense updates to oil and gas leasing policies established in the 1920s for years, but this proposal is a loser. The fees we should be raising are oil and gas royalty rates, which currently offer up our public lands at rock bottom rates.

“We at HECHO value both our public lands and our voices. This policy of ‘pay to say’ would not only charge $150 or more just to object to an oil and gas lease on public lands, but it would also have a chilling effect on our constitutional right to petition our government. Our deep ties to the land and generations-old traditions on the land compel us, as stewards, to reject any attempt to drown out our voices, especially when it comes to decisions being made about our public lands,” Simon added.

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The National Wildlife Federation is America's largest conservation organization uniting all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in a rapidly-changing world. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) works to protect our healthy watersheds, clean air and robust wildlife habitats so that we can continue to enjoy and practice centuries-old cultural traditions that depend on these open spaces. From southwestern deserts to northern forestland, Latinos throughout America have a strong connection to our nation's diverse landscapes. We urge our elected and appointed policymakers to safeguard our precious public lands, so that our children can enjoy fishing, hiking, hunting, camping and other outdoor activities for generations to come.