Letter Opposing the "Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2008"
October 30, 2008
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE:
The undersigned organizations strongly urge you to oppose the "Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2008," added as an amendment by Sen. Bingaman to H.R. 5151, which combines more than 100 public land, water, and resource bills into an omnibus federal land-grab bill. This omnibus bill withdraws millions of acres of public land from energy development, increases government spending by more than $4 billion, and adds even greater restrictions to federally managed lands. Senate Majority Leader Reid has announced that he will bring the Senate back after the November elections for a lame-duck session in an effort to pass this ill-considered bill.
At a time when American families are struggling to cope with an unprecedented financial crisis, uncertain oil prices, and elevated food costs, this bill would only serve to exacerbate those problems. Specifically, the 1,000-page omnibus bill would withdraw more than 3 million acres of land from energy development and put it under federal control. For example, it withdraws 1.2 million acres of land in Wyoming from mineral leasing and energy exploration, which includes approximately 331 million barrels of recoverable oil and 8.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. In addition, another 1.93 million U.S. acres would be designated as "wilderness areas," thereby preventing all major recreation on them and prohibiting any new oil and gas leasing.
The federal government already controls upward of 650 million acres of land (almost 1/3 of the entire United States), many of which are suffering from chronic maintenance backlogs. The National Park Service alone estimates the maintenance backlog of projects on the federal lands it manages at $9 billion. Nevertheless, this bill would shift millions of additional acres to federal control, cost taxpayers billions of dollars, and further erode private property ownership rights.
Shackling U.S. energy exploration and development at this critical time would substantially jeopardize America's already fragile economy. Therefore, the undersigned organizations urge you to vote against H.R. 5151 in November to protect private property rights and future U.S. energy independence.
R. Bruce Josten