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Wildlife Federations opposes bills

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House Natural Resources moves several harmful bills forward: Last Wednesday, the House Natural Resources Committee held a full committee markup on many bills related to public lands and conservation. Several bills were passed out of committee that would undermine wildlife conservation efforts, including H.R. 638, The National Wildlife Refuge Review Act.

H.R. 638 would make it impossible for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish new refuges administratively even though they must go through a rigorous public process to do so. If the Executive branch didn’t have the authority to create refuges, we wouldn’t have a National Wildlife Refuge System, period. The Executive branch — including every President since Theodore Roosevelt, who created the first wildlife refuge — has established 90 percent of all refuges.

Two other bills would undermine leasing reforms intended to balance activities on public lands. One of the bills, H.R. 1965, the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act, would reinstate a plan to open up to 2 million acres of public lands in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado to oil shale development although companies are still researching commercially and environmentally feasible ways to produce a usable fuel from the shale, among other harmful provisions.

The other bill, H.R. 1394, the Planning for American Energy Act, energy development would take priority on federal public lands, which would undermine the mandate of multiple-use management and threaten our outdoor recreation-based economy.’ The Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development sent up a letter to the Committee outlining these problems.

The growth of the Refuge System is facing unprecedented attack. H.R. 638 will strip the Executive Branch’s ability to create new refuges.

The House Natural Resources Committee is voting on H.R. 638 Wednesday, July 24th! Take Action Now!

Since 1903, national wildlife refuges have been created by both the Executive branch and by Congress but a bill by Representative John Fleming of Louisiana would change all that. H.R. 638 would make it impossible for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to establish new refuges administratively even though they must go through a rigorous public process to do so. Instead, only Congress would be able to create new refuges — and we know just how easy things move through Congress these days!

If the Executive Branch didn’t have the authority to create refuges — we wouldn’t have a National Wildlife Refuge System. Period.

The Executive branch — including every President since Theodore Roosevelt — has established 90 percent of all refuges. The creation of refuges has been bipartisan with nearly the same number created by Republican and Democratic Administrations but Republican Administrations have much greater acreage - most recently with 50 million acres added by President G. W. Bush in 2009 for the Pacific Monuments.

This legislation is an attempt to halt any growth of the Refuge System and is retroactive from January 1, 2013

Please urge your U.S. Representative to vote NO on H.R 638 if they are a member of the House Natural Resources Committee and if they are not, please urge them to contact Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR) voicing their opposition to this ill conceived plan.

If you have any specific questions or concerns, please contact Bentley Johnson at JohnsonB@nwf.org or 202-797-6826.

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