TU: proposed energy bill limites public involvement

Tue, 06/05/2018


June 5, 2018

Contact: Corey Fisher, Trout Unlimited, cfisher@tu.org, (406) 546-2979

Steve Moyer, TU, smoyer@tu.org, (571) 274-0593

Randy Scholfield, TU communications, rscholfield@tu.org, (720) 375-3961




Draft bill would force citizens to pay to have a say in public lands decisions

(Washington, D.C.) –Ahead of a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing, Trout Unlimited today questioned the need for draft legislation that would make it harder for the public to weigh in on oil and gas leases and sales on public land.

Under the draft bill, to be discussed at Wednesday’s Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee hearing, the Interior Department would be allowed to impose a “filing fee” on those submitting administrative protests of oil and gas lease sales, permit to drill applications and issuance of right-of-way grants. The “base filing fee” for protests of 10 pages or less would be $150, with “an additional assessment of $5” for each additional page, and “$10 per additional lease parcel,” according to the discussion draft.

Wednesday’s hearing will also consider three other discussion drafts that seek to fast track permitting and curtail the process used to determine if a project should be “categorically excluded” from further environmental review and public comment.

“Sportsmen and women who value their public lands want a voice in the permitting process,” said Corey Fisher, senior policy director for TU’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project. “Limiting public comment and creating a ‘pay to have a say’ system will affect the very people who know these lands best.”

Fisher questioned the need for the bills given ample access to energy resources on public lands. In FY 2017, BLM offered nearly 2.4 million acres for leasing and the oil and gas industry bid on only 1.2 million acres. The BLM’s budget justifications for the same fiscal year show that agency has an inventory of about 7,000 approved permits that are ready to be drilled.

Along with thousands of approved permits that have gone unused, Fisher noted that nearly 13 million acres of valid leases remain undeveloped.

“The BLM’s own statistics speak for themselves: there is already ample access to responsibly develop America’s energy resources,” said Fisher. “America's hunters and anglers have to ask what good would come from limiting public involvement in decisions affecting the places we hunt and fish? We can have both responsible energy development and conservation, but this requires that everyone affected—landowners, state and local governments and public lands users—gets a fair shake and a say in the management of our public lands.”

Healthy fish and wildlife habitat is the foundation of the West’s booming recreation and tourism economy, which depends on smart, balanced management of diverse public land uses. Trout Unlimited and numerous partners have invested millions of dollars and countless hours toward improving wildlife habitat and fisheries on public lands—and stakeholder input is critical to maintaining and protecting those outstanding resources.

“Federal land management has long operated under the principle of multiple use,” said Steve Moyer, TU’s vice president of government affairs. “If we prioritize one use over others and limit the ability of ordinary citizens to be engaged in the management of our public lands, we move moving away from—not toward—multiple use."

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Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter, and follow our blog for all the latest information on trout and salmon conservation.



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