A majority of the members of the U.S. House Representatives have dismissed the concerns of citizens and voted to prioritize drilling above all other uses of our nation’s public lands, a sportsmen’s coalition said Thursday.

The House voted 248-163 for the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, H.R. 4480, which would speed up oil and natural gas leasing and permitting on public lands, hamper the public’s ability to protest leases and permits and undermine reforms that have reduced lease protests by addressing potential conflicts upfront. Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development noted that the bill also would accelerate oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve, a nearly 23-million-acre area prized for its rich fish and wildlife populations and valuable landscapes.

The National Wildlife Federation, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Trout Unlimited are lead partners in the sportsmen’s coalition. Comments from SFRED representatives follow:

“Our groups support balanced oil and gas development on public lands, but there’s nothing balanced about this bill. It tips the scales heavily in favor of oil and gas companies. It makes it harder for ordinary citizens to weigh in on decisions about their own public lands. It even charges them $5,000 if they dare to challenge the issuance of a lease or drilling permit. It dictates that at least 25 percent of the federal land selected by the oil and gas companies be leased each year no matter what the cost to our nation’s clean air and water and fish and wildlife habitat. We hope the Senate recognizes how deeply flawed this legislation is and rejects it.’’ Kate Zimmerman, public lands policy director, National Wildlife Federation

“There are about 7,000 drilling permits approved on public lands that  aren’t being used and roughly 20 million acres under lease that are sitting idle. And just as the House ramrods through a bill that rolls back common-sense conservation safeguards on public lands, saying that oil and gas production is being stifled, the media report that U.S. crude oil stocks are just a little shy of their all-time record high set in 1990. Why the land rush?’’  Brad Powell, energy director for Trout Unlimited.

Images courtesy Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development

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