Oil Industry & Gun/Hunter Groups: Perfect Together?

From time to time, we hear about moves to transfer federal public lands to the states, but now it seems to be revving up to a new level.

It’s on ALEC’s agenda and the oil and gas industry is making  some unusual donations: $1 million from a large Texas oil company to the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other large amounts to conservative hunters groups like Safari Club International and Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (which has direct access to members of Congress).

Contributions from the fossil fuel industry now comprise almost 30% of NRA’s corporate giving program, reports the Center for American Progress (CAP) in their report, Oil and Gas Industry Investments in the National Rifle Association and Safari Club International Reshaping American Energy, Land, and Wildlife Policy.

It’s not about support for guns, it’s about enrolling those organizations in the idea that oil and gas companies should be able to drill even in wildlife sanctuaries. 

"Two bedrock principles have guided the work and advocacy of American sportsmen for more than a century. First, under the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, wildlife in the United States is considered a public good to be conserved for everyone and accessible to everyone, not a commodity that can be bought and owned by the highest bidder. Second, since President Theodore Roosevelt’s creation of the first wildlife refuges and national forests, sportsmen have fought to protect wildlife habitat from development and fragmentation to ensure healthy game supplies," says Matt Lee-Ashley, who wrote the report and directs CAP’s public lands program.

You wouldn’t want to be an endangered species where there’s oil or gas around. But more than disrupting what’s left of the natural world, they want to own it. Their goal is to privatize public lands – – including our national parks.

Vast areas of public land are already leased to oil and gas companies – but apparently 92,000 wells aren’t enough. In addition to getting access at subsidized prices to a land area the size of Florida, according to the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), they consume public water supplies that could serve Washington D.C., Denver, and parts of California’s Monterey, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. 

Speaking of Florida, one of the industry’s targets is the Everglades, where there may be oil and gas under two wildlife refuges. Residents living nearby received a surprise notice last year advising them on how to evacuate should there be a gas leak or explosion at a drilling site less than a mile from the refuge. These exploratory wells have a history of leaking.

Oil leases in 2012 on public land:

Oil Leases 2012

In the GOP’s infamous Drill, Baby, Drill legislation, basically all public resources – onshore and offshore – would be opened to the industry. Not only that, they want a US oil shale industry, even more toxic than Canada’s tar sands.

This week, Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee approved four bills to weaken the Endangered Species Act, and will likely be passed by the full House this year. It weakens the definition of "best science" – used to make listing decisions – and makes it harder for citizens to hold the government accountable, among other measures.

Last year, US oil production was greater than the amount imported for first time since 1995, reports the US Energy Information Agency (EIA).

The amount of protected land needs to grow to protect habitats, water supplies and to absorb greenhouse gases. It would be a travesty if the oil and gas industry gets its way.

Here’s the report:

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