Sportsmen Back Stronger Federal Fracking Rules

Hunters, anglers urge House committee to reject bill barring federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing on public lands

08-01-2013 // Judith Kohler

Pheasant hunting

A national sportsmen’s coalition that supports updating federal rules for hydraulic fracturing is calling on Congress to reject a bill that would prohibit the Interior Department from regulating the practice.

The coalition Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development said Wednesday that H.R. 2728 would hamstring efforts to establish consistent, minimum standards to safeguard important resources on public lands.

The bill, being considered now by the House Natural Resources Committee, would bar Interior from regulating fracking on federal lands in states that have their own rules and guidance. The prohibition would apply even if the state rules weren’t as stringent as the federal regulations.

"The law requires that our public lands be managed for multiple uses. The American public supports conserving the fish and wildlife on those lands and protecting air and water quality,” said Brad Powell, senior policy director of the Sportsmen’s Conservation Project at Trout Unlimited. “Proposed updates to federal fracking rules are a good step forward in sensible regulation of a practice that has changed and expanded dramatically in the past few years. The House bill blocking federal regulation would be a huge step backward.”

"State regulations and enforcement can be wildly different from one state to another,” said Kate Zimmerman, public lands policy director for the National Wildlife Federation. “We need a minimum set of standards that will conserve all public lands uses and values, including fish and wildlife, recreation, clean air and water.”

The legislation is another case of a solution in search of a problem, said Ed Arnett, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Center for Responsible Energy Development.

"We’ve seen several bills recently that are aimed at removing supposed obstacles to drilling on public lands as thousands of approved permits go unused and millions of acres under lease remain undeveloped,” said Arnett. “Hunters and anglers don’t oppose energy development on public lands, but we want to see it done responsibly and with commonsense regulations in place to conserve fish and wildlife habitat, remote backcountry and waterways.”

Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development is a coalition of more than 500 businesses, organizations and individuals dedicated to conserving irreplaceable habitats so future generations can hunt and fish on public lands. The coalition is led by Trout Unlimited, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the National Wildlife Federation.

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