WHEREAS, the National Wildlife Federation has long advocated for responsible development and use of natural resources in ways that ensure protections for wildlife, habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities from unregulated or poorly regulated energy development, today and for future generations; and
WHEREAS, energy development’s potential consequences include wildlife habitat alteration, destruction and fragmentation; air pollution; soil pollution; surface, ground and ocean water pollution; disruption of wildlife breeding, nesting, migrating and habitat occupancy patterns; and exacerbation of climate change – consequences that pose serious threats not only to wildlife, wildlife habitat and watersheds but also to human health and to humans’ historical and cultural values; and
WHEREAS, the National Wildlife Federation has long supported implementation and enforcement of bedrock conservation and environmental laws, including but not limited to the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, Coastal Zone Management Act, and Oil Pollution Act; and
WHEREAS, there is no credible evidence that compliance with such environmental and conservation laws has substantially impeded responsible energy development, but in fact has coincided with dramatic increases in oil, natural gas and coal energy production that now largely meet or exceed demand while also allowing meaningful public and stakeholder participation and protections for wildlife, habitat, recreation and historical and cultural values; and
WHEREAS, the current Administration and the Department of Interior are pushing an “energy dominance” agenda that is focused on rapidly increasing energy development, particularly harmful fossil fuel development, at a pace that is unrelated to need and appears mostly concerned with increasing industry profit at the expense of other important values, including America’s $887 billion outdoor recreation economy; and
WHEREAS, this energy dominance agenda has been accompanied by legislative and administrative initiatives to dramatically weaken or remove substantive and procedural safeguards with the intended effect of undermining basic wildlife, habitat, natural resources, cultural and historical protections while greatly reducing or eliminating public comment and input and giving preference to special interests, particularly fossil fuel developers; and
WHEREAS, this energy dominance agenda embraces initiatives to radically expand energy development and production to areas that were previously protected from such development due to wildlife, habitat, natural-resources-based historical, cultural, and other important values with little regard for the importance of such values or the detrimental impacts energy development can have upon them; and
WHEREAS, this accelerated development stimulates leasing of lands with marginal potential for energy development, at nominal costs, allowing speculators to hoard acreage that produces neither revenue nor energy while blocking public access, recreation, conservation, habitat development or other suitable activities; and
WHEREAS, this accelerated and unbalanced rush to develop public-land energy resources is taking place under an antiquated rate structure of below-market royalties of 12.5 percent; minimum bids of $2.00 per acre; annual rental rates on undeveloped leases of $1.50 per acre; and inadequate reclamation bonds that shift to taxpayers the cost of cleaning up energy production’s damages to public lands, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenues and added expenses to the public treasury.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Wildlife Federation at its annual meeting assembled June 6-9, 2018, in Chantilly, Virginia, urges Congress and appropriate agencies to implement and fully enforce laws that ensure wildlife, habitat, natural resource, historical, cultural, and recreational values are protected from harmful energy development practices, and to assure that such laws are not weakened, rolled back or laxly enforced to the detriment of those values, including harms that could result from climate change; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Wildlife Federation urges Congress and appropriate federal agencies to uphold, implement and enforce laws and procedures that ensure meaningful public and stakeholder participation, transparent decision-making, and judicial review in actions related to energy development; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Wildlife Federation urges Congress and appropriate agencies to base all decisions to expand or open public lands and waters to energy development on the best available science, applicable law, need, and a careful weighing of wildlife, habitat, natural resource, historical and cultural values that is strongly protective of those values and does not irresponsibly or needlessly place them at risk; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Wildlife Federation urges Congress and appropriate federal agencies to bring rental, minimum-bid, royalty, fee and bonding rates to fair market value levels commensurate with those of the state and private sectors, with the goal of encouraging production and revenues from high-potential leases while discouraging speculative hoarding of low-potential acreage, ensuring that the responsible parties pay for cleanup, and ultimately enhancing revenues and reducing costs to the public’s coffers.