For Immediate Release | May 17, 2018
Local Elected Officials from Western Mountain Communities Meet with Congressional and Administration Leaders in Washington DC
Avon, CO - Council members from five Western mountain communities joined The Mountain Pact Executive Director in Washington DC last week. The group met with their Congressional delegations, as well as with leadership from the Department of Interior and US Department of Agriculture, to advocate for balanced public lands use that supports the economic vitality and climate resiliency of mountain communities. The mayors pro tem and council members from Frisco, Avon, Telluride, and Aspen, Colorado and Bend, Oregon traveled to Washington to discuss public lands; oil and gas leasing and royalties; reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund; and maintaining the 2016 Methane Waste Rule.
Oil and Gas
The Mountain Pact delegation delivered a letter to congressional members signed by over 40 elected officials from Western mountain communities asking them not to move forward with the SECURE and ONSHORE Acts. Anna Peterson, Executive Director with The Mountain Pact said, “Our Western communities rely on a healthy public lands system that can support outdoor recreation and tourism alongside additional uses. However, the SECURE and ONSHORE Act would transfer control of oil and gas drilling to states, allowing them to circumvent the environmental review process and public comment periods required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This would further minimize public voices and expedite harmful drilling programs which would be detrimental to the economic posterity and cultural vitality of mountain communities.”
Sarah Smith Hymes, Mayor Pro Tem in Avon, Colorado said, “Outdoor recreation is critical in supporting mountain town economies and is dependent on healthy public lands. When public lands are managed strictly for ‘energy dominance’, other uses integral to the health and character of mountain communities, such as outdoor recreation, wildlife viewing, and conservation, are forgotten and adversely impacted.”
“The Trump Administration should focus on improving public lands, which are the infrastructure upon which the economic powerhouse of outdoor recreation depends. Outdoor recreation bolsters the economies and culture of mountain communities.” Said Ann Mullins, Mayor Pro Tem in Aspen, Colorado.
Land and Water Conservation Fund
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is America’s most important conservation program, responsible for protecting parks, wildlife refuges, and recreation areas at the federal, state, and local levels, ensuring that all Americans have access to recreate and enjoy our lands and parks across America. At its launch in 1965, Congress authorized that the fund would receive up to $900 million annually in royalties paid by oil and gas companies drilling offshore; no taxpayer dollars have ever been used to fund LWCF. Since its launch, the program has enjoyed wide bipartisan support through more than 10 administrations, protected more than 7.6 million acres of land, and supported more than 41,000 parks, ballfields, and other recreation projects that meet state and local priorities.
Bend, Oregon City Council member Dr. Nathan Boddie said, "I hope Congress will fully fund and reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund to ensure we invest in beneficial management of our public lands in Bend and throughout the U.S. The fund has been and should continue to be our nation's most successful bi-partisan program and we need it fully reauthorized."
BLM Methane Waste Rule
In February 2018, Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke announced that he would be taking an axe to the BLM Methane rule without holding a single public hearing. Under the Obama administration, the 2016 BLM Methane and Waste Prevention Rule was drafted over multiple years and had eight public hearings, implementing stricter regulations on the leaking, venting, and flaring of methane from oil and gas wells on public and tribal lands - a common sense move that would reduce pollution and save taxpayers money.
“If the administration were to listen to Western stakeholders – including outdoor recreation business owners, recreationists, sportsmen, conservationists, gateway communities, and Tribal nations, they would know that the 2016 BLM Methane Waste and Prevention Rule should be implemented as is. This rule has common sense environmental and economic safeguards that will put an end to shortchanging taxpayers and reduce emissions that have proven harmful to human and environmental health, as demonstrated successfully in Colorado,” said Todd Brown, Mayor Pro Tem from Telluride, Colorado.
Hunter Mortensen, Mayor Pro Tem from Frisco, Colorado said, "America’s public lands have experienced long-term underinvestment and mismanagement. These public lands are an integral part of the fabric of western communities and driver of local economies. Through tools such as the Antiquities Act and common sense energy regulations, the federal government can act to protect and enhance the American public land system. An attack on these policies is an attack on all public lands and the communities and economies that rely on them.”
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Anna Peterson, Executive Director, The Mountain Pact, 612-735-2402, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mountain Pact is an organization that works with mountain communities across the American West to empower them to build resilience in the face of economic and environmental stresses through a shared voice on federal policy related to climate, public lands, and outdoor recreation.