Sportsmen to President Obama: Public lands a worthwhile legacy

National coalition urges Obama to take lead on oil and gas leasing reforms, protections for public lands in face of congressional inaction

01-29-2014 // Judith Kohler
Proghorn herd

DENVER – With members of Congress at loggerheads on many issues, President Barack Obama can take the lead and fully implement promised changes to oil and gas leasing and public lands management, a national sportsmen’s coalition said Tuesday.

Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development used the occasion of the State of the Union speech to urge the president to complete the adoption of oil and gas leasing reforms, including the use of master leasing plans to address conflicts between drilling and important fish and wildlife resources.

The coalition also called on Obama to ensure that new federal rules for hydraulic fracturing – fracking – include disclosure of the chemicals used and robust requirements for the construction of well casings to protect groundwater.

The coalition applauded the president’s determination to see that responsible energy development is balanced with environmental protections. Carrying out the reforms and updating the 30-year-old federal fracking rule will allow the administration to pursue an "all-of-the-above" energy approach while ensuring that our public lands, fish, wildlife, air and water quality are safeguarded and hunting and angling will continue to be an important part of our nation’s heritage and economy, the group added.

 Members of the coalition, led by the National Wildlife Federation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Trout Unlimited, said:

“Hunters, anglers and the millions of other Americans who value our outdoor traditions, fish and wildlife, clean air and water have great concerns about repeated efforts in Congress to make drilling and other resource extraction the priority use of our nation’s public lands. Instead we need to stay the course charted by this administration’s commonsense reforms of the federal onshore oil and gas leasing program. Those reforms will not shut down energy production.  They will help us maintain healthy fish and wildlife populations, intact habitat and the local economies nationwide that benefit from hunting, angling, tourism and outdoor recreation.” Kate Zimmerman, public lands policy director, National Wildlife Federation.

“In 2010, the Obama administration and Interior Department announced sweeping changes to how the nation does energy development on our public lands, and, in 2014, we still are awaiting their full implementation. Master lease plans, for example, provide a powerful tool to avoid and minimize impacts to wildlife and other conflicts that can result from poorly planned oil and gas leasing, yet they remain more of a concept than a policy reality.” Ed Arnett, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Center for Responsible Energy Development.

“President Obama has an opportunity to add to his legacy by taking bold actions at a crucial time in our nation’s history, a time when we’re on the verge of becoming far more energy self-sufficient. At the same time, the president can make this country a global example by requiring that the energy developed on our public lands – oil, gas, wind, solar – be done responsibly. He can show that it’s possible to be a world economic power while conserving the great landscapes, fish and wildlife populations and the backcountry that make our country unique.” Brad Powell, senior policy director of the Sportsmen’s Conservation Project, Trout Unlimited.

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