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NWF, HECHO: Congress Must Reject Shortsighted Public Land Bills

Proposals Would Prioritize Energy Development on Public Lands, Muzzle the Public

Denver, CO – Bills aimed at fast-tracking oil and gas leasing and drilling on public lands would discourage public involvement and prioritize energy development to the detriment of wildlife, hunting and fishing and other activities, the National Wildlife Federation and HECHO said. The House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources is taking testimony today on four bills intended to advance the Interior Department’s efforts to remove obstacles to energy development on public lands. One would charge members of the public at least $150 to protest oil and gas leases. Tracy Stone-Manning, the National Wildlife Federation’s associate vice president for public lands, said: “Americans think protecting clean air and water, wildlife, and places to hunt, fish and camp is important to future generations. But some in Congress and the administration see upholding these values as nothing but an impediment to fast tracking drilling and mining. They should know better and reject these shortsighted bills.”

Camilla Simon, director of HECHO, Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors, said of the proposal to charge the public for filing a protest: “We’ve been asking for commonsense updates to oil and gas leasing policies established in the 1920s for years, but this proposal is a loser. The fees we should be raising are oil and gas royalty rates, which currently offer up our public lands at rock bottom rates. “We at HECHO value both our public lands and our voices. This policy of ‘pay to say’ would not only charge $150 or more just to object to an oil and gas lease on public lands, but it would also have a chilling effect on our constitutional right to petition our government. Our deep ties to the land and generations-old traditions on the land compel us, as stewards, to reject any attempt to drown out our voices, especially when it comes to decisions being made about our public lands,” Simon added.

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