Hunters, Anglers Aim To Head Off Reckless Energy Development In Response To High Gasoline Prices

Sportsmen coalition releases guidelines for responsible oil and gas drilling on public lands

07-22-2008 // NWF Media Team

Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development, a coalition of more than 150 hunting and fishing organizations and businesses, has released energy development guidelines titled Recommendations for Responsible Oil and Gas Development. Conceived and written by top scientists and policy experts, including former Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck and former Wyoming Game and Fish Director John Baughman, the recommendations are a much needed road map for Congress and land managers at a time when vast tracks of western lands are being turned into industrial zones. The findings provide guidance on how legislation should be crafted to strike a balance between conservation and energy development in the West.

"Sportsmen are rightly concerned about the breakneck pace of oil and gas development in the west over the last decade," said Chris Wood, COO of Trout Unlimited. "Most sportsmen support the wise use of energy resources from our public lands. But because that's not happening today, hunters and anglers from around the West are fighting to keep short-term energy development decisions from compromising the long-term health of the land and waters we depend on."

In recent years, energy development has become a dominant fixture on the Western landscape, threatening the long-term sustainability of the regions fish, wildlife, and water resources. Since 1999, drilling has increased 260 percent on federal public lands. Drill rigs, well pads, compressor stations, power lines, pipelines and roads now dominate public lands that once were prized hunting and fishing grounds. Federal policies that lease public lands for development fail to adequately consider the consequences to our natural resources. Furthermore, the federal agencies responsible for managing our fish and wildlife habitat lack the necessary resources to ensure the impacts of energy development are minimized and mitigated.

"People who hunt and fish on our western public lands, and those who rely on sportsmen for their livelihoods, want our lands managed for more than just oil and gas development," said John Baughman, former Wyoming Fish and Game Director. "Hunting, fishing, and wildlife related recreation contributes about $7.3 billion to state and local economies every year. Without meaningful reform of the process being used to tap our energy resources, we will lose more than just our wildlife but an entire way of life in the west. We need to slow down and be sure we respond to our energy needs responsibly."

The oil and gas development guidelines include the following recommendations (for a PDF of the recommendations, visit this site):

  • Reaffirm multiple-use management of federal lands to sustain fish, wildlife, and water resources.
  • Strengthen the process used to lease public lands and permit oil and gas development.
  • Implement new measures for monitoring the effects of oil and gas development.
  • Make comprehensive and thorough mitigation and reclamation a fixture in all leasing and development decisions.
  • Remove exemptions from Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts for oil and gas development.
  • Use current scientific information as the basis for all decision in energy development.
  • Make industry accountable for the costs of oil and gas development on public lands.

"Sportsmen are very concerned about the profound effects any extensive oil and gas development can have on fish, water, wildlife," said Mike Dombeck, former chief of the U.S. Forest Service and former director of the Bureau of Land Management. "That's why we are fighting to be part of the equation Right now oil and gas development is considered the prime use of the land—hunters and anglers want to be a part of that equation from the outset. We are looking for practical, common-sense solutions that can be implemented in a doable way."

Contacts:

Shoren Brown, SFRED Campaign Director, (202) 674-2380
Craig Culp, National Wildlife Federation, (301) 509-0925, culpc@nwf.org.
Katie McKalip, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, (406) 240-9262, kmckalip@trcp.org
Chris Hunt, Trout Unlimited Public Lands Initiative, (208) 406-9106, chunt@tu.org

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