The following statement from The Wilderness Society President William H. Meadows is in response to the House Natural Resources Committee passing the CLEAR Act, H.R. 3534, this morning:
“This morning, the House Natural Resources Committee passed a watershed piece of legislation for America’s treasured wild places – providing for additional protected lands and building on previous conservation successes. Fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) provides a fair environmental return to the public through long-term protection of threatened habitats, beaches, waterways, and other special places across America.
The bill includes a new standard for wildlife sustainability on public lands, providing for the management of wildlife habitat through the use of advanced scientific techniques and strong partnerships with state fish and wildlife agencies.
As the devastating effects of the BP spill demonstrate, oil and gas production can itself be a major threat to our nation's lands and wildlife and the communities that depend on them. The reforms of the federal government’s onshore and offshore oil and gas programs that establish important environmental and fiscal safeguards are critical to ensuring against future catastrophes.
The CLEAR act also includes important language that guarantees that the restoration work needed to repair the damage from the Gulf oil spill also improves the resilience of our natural areas to withstand the impacts of climate change, making certain that the area is protected from current and future threats.
Moving away from fossil fuels is one way to reduce the threats in the first place. The bill creates a leasing program for wind and solar on federal lands that advances development of these important resources in an orderly and equitable manner. Importantly, the bill recognizes that some areas are more appropriate for commercial development, including already disturbed lands, and encourages companies to put projects in the best places.
I am concerned however, about the reach of the proposed Bureau of Energy and Resource Management to make land use decisions on our national wildlife refuges, national forests, and other public lands. We will be working with Congress to make sure that the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service retain their authority to determine where oil, gas, and other development on these lands is appropriate.”