Land Tawney, head of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, has some advice for America’s sportsmen.
“It’s time to stand up and tell the House we aren’t going to take this kind of treatment anymore!”
Tawney was talking about the distinct possibility that the House of Representatives will not take action on the energy bill currently heading to a conference committee. That move would bring a sad—if familiar—end to a season of a range of sportsmen’s issues.
It was just three months ago that we saw positive headlines here and across the sportsmen’s community about the energy bill passed by the Senate with bi-partisan support.
Some even wondered if a new era was dawning on a congress that had made “partisan divide” seemingly part of its oath of office, a policy that often made sportsmen’s issues collateral damage.
Not only did this energy bill have support from both the GOP and Dems, but it also included a long list of issues sportsmen have been pushing for years, including:
• Measured development of the new energy resources, and guarantees that wildlife and outdoor recreation are being considered on the front end.
• Wildlife concerns, such as migration corridors, won’t be ignored in solar, wind, or geothermal developments, which require large expanses of landscape.
• A return of 35 percent of all royalty payments to fund fish and wildlife habitat restoration, ensuring hunting and fishing access on those public lands.
• Adequate deposits for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The cheering stopped when key members of the House GOP leadership indicated they were not in a mood to compromise on some of these issues—most of which were not in the House bill.
Further, Rep. Bishop (R-UT), who is chairman of the House Natural Resource Committee, is holding firm to his unpopular plan (even with some in his own party) to repurpose LWCF spending.
Sportsmen’s groups have been spending mega-hours lobbying House GOP members, hoping to get a compromise out of conference that includes those provisions they have fought so hard for. But it now looks like getting anything out of committee is a long shot.
“The House version didn’t include the sportsmen’s provisions that we care about, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund features, so we knew this would be a tough road, but now it looks even tougher,” said Tawney.
“It’s political season now, and there are only about 40 working days left before they leave for recess—and then start campaigning for the elections.
“We’re worried the House will, once again, just not do anything.”
Which brings us back to Tawney’s charge for sportsmen.
“Get in touch with House members and tell them the American people, and sportsmen in particular, won’t take this delaying any more,” he said. “These are issues we care about, things we need done now.”