National sportsmen’s coalition calls on House subcommittee to keep fish, wildlife and the public in mind when making decisions about public lands
As members of Congress tackle ways to manage our public lands, a national sportsmen’s coalition continues to urge lawmakers to strike a balance that permits responsible energy development while maintaining healthy fish, wildlife and habitat and allowing public input.
Speakers in a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Wednesday objected to what they see as unnecessary regulation of drilling on public lands. Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development supports a process that involves the public and provides certainty for everyone – the industry, public agencies, landowners and the millions of Americans who hunt, fish, recreate and make a living off public lands.
The environmental analysis criticized during the hearing as red tape was a key part of oil and gas leasing reforms launched in 2010 to restore balance to the management of lands that are owned by all Americans, SFRED representatives said. Upfront review of potential conflicts has helped reduce the number of contested leases, giving companies more certainty, they added.
“A fundamental underpinning of increased permitting efficiency for public lands energy development is a solid pre-development plan – one that provides assurances for both conservation and industry,” said Ed Arnett, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Center for Responsible Energy Development. “Our coalition believes that permitting efficiencies could be gained through implementing master leasing plans and guiding development to areas with the lowest environmental concerns, thus providing greater certainty for industry by reducing conflicts on the front end of planning.”
Federal statistics don’t support the contention that regulations are constraining leasing on public lands. In fiscal 2012, a total of about 37.8 million acres were under lease, but only 12.5 million acres were under production.
“The public has a right to know what’s happening on their lands and to have a say in the decisions affecting those lands,” said Brad Powell, senior policy director of the Sportsmen’s Conservation Project at Trout Unlimited. “Attempts to undermine the Interior Department’s successful leasing reforms or to derail common sense policy on hydraulic fracturing are misguided. No one wins, our federal lands are damaged, our fish and wildlife populations are put at risk and energy projects are slowed down by appeals”
Logo courtesy Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development