Congress considering terrible bills to speed up oil and gas destruction of public wildlands

Water for wildlife in Nevada (Photo © Anne Novak, all rights reserved.)

Cross-posted from National Resources Defense Council

By Amy Mall, Senior Policy Analyst, Washington, D.C.

May 15, 2012

A suite of bad bills is scheduled to be considered in the House Natural Resources Committee tomorrow, and NRDC opposes all of them. Here are the details from my colleague Bobby McEnaney on the four worst:

    • H.R. 4383 – This draconian bill is designed to eliminate the public’s right to have a say in the management of public lands–lands that belong to all Americans. The bill would abolish most avenues to protest oil and gas leasing decisions, mandates unrealistic timelines for challenging oil and gas leases, aims to limit the scope of federal courts, and imposes a $5,000 fee if anyone can still find a way to protest an agency’s oil and gas leasing decision. Further, this legislation would require the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to bypass proper environmental review, even though the oil and gas industry currently is sitting on thousands of unused leases.
    • H.R. 4382 – This sweeping legislation would mandate oil and gas leasing on public lands, even when it is not warranted. It would also eliminate the public’s right to participate in management processes associated with leasing decisions by severely curtailing the opportunity to protest inappropriate leasing decisions. Lastly, it would force the BLM to lease lands when oil and gas companies want, even when such a decision would destroy or damage sensitive lands and wildlife habitat, including wilderness quality lands. In essence, this bill would cede control of federal lands to oil and gas producers and remove safeguards that balance energy production with necessary conservation mandates.
    • H.R. 4381 – This bill would require the Department of Interior (DOI) to establish arbitrary targets for energy production on federal lands–even those under the jurisdiction of other agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service. The bill would require the agency to take all necessary actions to meet the targets, leading to extraction of coal, oil and gas, and other dirty fossil fuels at the expense of cleaner sources such as wind and solar.
    • H.R. 4402 – This legislation would nearly abolish the public’s right to participate in the management of mining claims on federal lands. H.R. 4402 would eliminate the few safeguards that are in place and turn the clock back to the 19th century by eliminating the public’s right to challenge inappropriate mineral leasing decisions.

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