David Bernhardt Faces Ethics Questions During Senate Hearing

EOPA veterans who are lawmakers wrote eighteen individual Op-ed's exposing Bernhardt, to help protect our public lands and bring awareness to this issue.

Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., wasted no time lambasting Bernhardt for his relationship with old clients.   

“Your former clients on the oil and gas industry have been caught on tape crowing about how you’re their guy at Interior."

Wyden also accused Bernhardt of quote “meddling with the science.” The Senator was referring to Bernhardt blocking the release of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife report that analyzed the effects of toxic chemicals on wildlife. 

Bernhardt insisted that he did nothing wrong and that the report didn’t have a sufficient legal review. In his opening statement, he promised to lead the Interior to a high standard of ethics. 

“I know how important and how devastating it is when folks at the top act in an unethical manner,” Bernhardt said. “It affects the department across the board.” 

Republican Senator Cory Gardner from Colorado jumped to Bernhardt’s defense. 

“This is why good people don’t want to serve this country, because people on this committee and others around this capitol decide they can attack the witnesses and impugn their character.” 

Bernhardt’s nomination is expected to pass the Republican-dominated Senate. 

Find reporter Amanda Peacher on Twitter @amandapeacher. Boise State Public Radio

From the LA TIMES:

Lawmakers seeking assurance that the Trump administration will exempt their states from offshore drilling plans received no such promise during Thursday’s confirmation hearing of the president’s pick to run the Interior Department.

Senators grilled David Bernhardt on the administration’s proposal to open nearly all of the United States coastal waters to oil and gas drilling. What they got in response was Bernhardt’s commitment to listen to state leaders and a hint that the final plan may cover a smaller area. But that was all . . . 

 

Bipartisan opposition to the administration’s plans has been loud and strong.


When former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a proposal last year to allow offshore oil and gas exploration access to more than a billion acres in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic, governors up and down the country’s coasts objected.

Florida lawmakers asked to be exempted because of their state’s dependence on tourism dollars, prompting other states to demand the same consideration.

As the backlash has grown, the administration has begun quietly laying the groundwork to weaken a decades-old federal law that empowers California and other states to slow and even stop offshore development in federal waters.

“I can tell you we’ve got a governor, a legislature and a bipartisan congressional delegation that is — to use your term — rock solid against offshore drilling or testing,” said Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine.

King said the opposition in his state is so fierce that if he voted for Bernhardt’s confirmation, and the Interior Department later opened the state’s coastal waters to drilling, “I don't know if I can go home again.”

Bernhardt tried to placate senators. The administration’s drilling plan is in its early stages, he told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and would be “winnowed down.”

“We’re at step 1, not step 7,” Bernhardt said, adding that he had yet to see a completed draft of the plan.

His suggestion that some of the nation’s coastline might be left out of the final proposal did little to convince his detractors. After the hearing, 15 Democratic senators from coastal states said they would vote against Bernhardt’s confirmation.

“Today’s hearing made one thing absolutely clear: A vote for Bernhardt is a vote for offshore drilling,” the group of East and West Coast senators said in a statement.

Bernhardt has led the department since early January, when Zinke stepped down under a cloud of scandal.

As Zinke’s second-in-command and then as acting secretary, Bernhardt has overseen the Interior Department’s push to expand oil and gas drilling. Under his oversight, the department has shrunk the size of two national monuments in Utah in the name of opening up lands for coal and mineral mining. It has also loosened protections for the habitat of the sage grouse, a bird whose nesting area includes land in Western states coveted by the oil and gas industry.

As acting secretary, he now regulates many of the businesses whose interests he formerly advocated as a lobbyist.

Bernhardt's former firm, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, has sued the Interior Department four times on behalf of Westlands Water District, the nation's largest irrigation district. Bernhardt personally argued one appeals case challenging endangered species protections for California salmon.

Facing questions over his industry ties, he pledged Thursday to “fundamentally transform” the Interior Department’s ethics programs “to ingrain a culture of ethical compliance and reduce workplace misconduct.”

Citing several instances of documented misuse of funds by agency employees, Bernhardt told senators that ethics would be a priority.

“The reality is that the ethics program throughout the Department of the Interior has been sadly neglected for some time,” he wrote in a prepared statement.

Throughout the hearing, Republican senators praised Bernhardt’s qualifications. “We need experience around here,” said Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the committee’s chairwoman.

But during one particularly heated exchange, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) accused Bernhardt of lying to him during a meeting at the senator’s office. “You’re just another corrupt official,” he told the nominee.

EOPA veterans who are lawmakers wrote eighteen individual Op-ed's exposing Bernhardt, to help protect our public lands and bring awareness to this issue.

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More of Arizona’s public lands are at risk – help me save them

Op-ed by State Rep. Mark Cardenas

Veterans don’t distinguish each other by which political party we are affiliated with; we stand by and with our Constitution. I consider it my duty to stand by our public lands, protecting them for future generations.

But under the Trump administration public lands have been sold off for oil and gas development in Arizona. In September, the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, leased land to energy companies within three miles of Petrified Forest National Park, dangerously near a habitat for a federally threatened fish called the Little Colorado spine-dace. Fracking or drilling could be catastrophic for the region’s groundwater. Fracking consumes enormous amounts of water and threatens wildlife, farmlands and public health.

President Theodore Roosevelt established approximately 230 million acres of national forests and parks, wildlife reserves and 18 national monuments. He once said, “I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land, but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.”

Our national legacy of publicly owned lands makes America unique, we cannot allow them to be be sacrificed to oil and gas interests.

The Trump administration’s acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt used the government shutdown to ignore laws that protect our air, water, wildlife and public lands. The shutdown rolled out a welcome mat for the oil and gas industry, while breaking multiple federal laws. The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management never stopped unpaid workers from issuing public lands permits to special interests for development.

Bernhardt, an ex- oil lobbyist with deep ties to corporate polluters, is the architect behind the insistent attacks on our public lands. Since he’s been at the department Bernhardt has made his mark on public lands by reversing key Obama-era climate change policies, and prioritizing oil and gas drilling. He has a solid track record of doing favors for his industry friends at our expense.

The people of Arizona maintain a special relationship with our environment that transcends ideology, party, and socio-economic station. That’s why I stand with the Elected Officials to Protect America’s Lands. We are the only group of serving elected officials who are also veterans, dedicated to preserving and protecting America’s public lands for all. By doing so we are continuing the Constitutional vows, we take as veterans and elected officials, to preserve and protect our nation.

Last summer, 80 of us, signed and sent a letter to the Interior Secretary in support of reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). A week after we held congressional meetings with senators on Capitol Hill the LWCF funding bill, that had been languishing in committee, was approved. Recently the Senate passed sweeping conservation legislation which included LWCF funding. In a true bipartisan act Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, and Martha McSally, a Republican, were united in passage of the bill.

Now it is the law of the land.

For half a century, bipartisan support of LWCF has helped a broad spectrum of conservation needs while expanding recreation access for hunting, fishing, swimming and other public use. Over $4.2 billion has been made available to state and local governments to fund more than 43,000 conservation projects throughout the U.S. from the LWCF, since 1965.

Arizona has received $239.5 million from the fund over the years. From community playgrounds and ballfields to Arizona’s iconic national parks, wildlife refuges, and historic sites, LWCF has protected places like the Grand Canyon and Saguaro National Parks, Coconino National Forest, and Lake Mead National Recreation Area through the federal programs, and places like Lost Dutchman and Patagonia Lake State Parks through the state and local programs.

Arizona’s $21.2 billion outdoor recreation industry is an economic powerhouse – supporting 201,000 jobs. We cannot afford to lose any more public lands to oil and gas interests.

One of the rights we veterans fought for is the freedom of access for all Americans to our public lands.

The Department of the Interior Secretary should uphold the agency’s mission to protect our public lands for future generations. Bernhardt’s policies will rob present and future Americans of their right to enjoy their public-lands legacy, if we don’t take action.

And please join me in fighting to keep our public lands, so future generations will be able exercise their right to recreate in our public lands.

Call on Sen. Sinema and Sen. McSally asking them not to confirm Bernhardt. We must unite and take action.

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EOPA says Bernhardt is in too deep with oil bosses to become the Secretary of Interior

Article appeared in Maine Insights on March 17, 2019 
By Ramona du Houx

The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) spends more than $1 million per year to push its agenda in Congress and federal regulatory agencies.

Gathered for a private meeting in June 2017, oil executives who make up IPAA were celebrating David Bernhardt’s sudden rise. Their former lawyer had been appointed to the No. 2 spot at the Department of the Interior.

Now, his confirmation hearing to become the Secretary of the Interior starts March 28, 2019 at 10am.

“We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues,” said Dan Naatz, the IPAA political director, to about 100 executives keying them into the fact that Bernhardt’s new role meant their priorities would be heard at the highest levels of Interior.

Politico’s Reveal released the story on March 23, 2019 after obtaining a hourlong recording of the IPAA’s 2017 meeting at a beachside Ritz-Carlton in Laguna, CA, from The Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit news organization.

Above: Public lands in NM at risk if Bernhardt is confirmed as Sec. of the Interior.

“Bernhardt has already made his mark by reversing key Obama-era climate change policies, and prioritizing oil and gas drilling at the expense of our public lands. His ties to the fossil fuel industry are so numerous, he is rumored to have to carry a card with him to keep track of his potential conflicts of interest,” said Former Maine State Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, who served in the Marines in Iraq and is now a Lieutenant in the Navy Reserves, and The Elected Officials to Protect America’s Lands (EOPA) co-founder.

“Clearly, Bernhardt’s loyalties are not with the American public. One of the rights we veterans fought for is the freedom of access for all Americans to our revered public lands. Any Interior Secretary should uphold the agency’s mission to protect our public lands while upholding the Constitutional vows they take. We must keep Bernhard from stealing our birth right to access America’s public lands.”

EOPA is an unique group of 80 veterans who are elected officials, signed and sent a letter to the Interior Secretary in support of reauthorizing the LWCF last August. A week after some of them met with eight senators on Capitol Hill the LWCF funding bill, that had been languishing in committee, was approved. Continued pressure from EOPA didn’t stop until it passed the US House and Senate. Now it’s the law of the land.

Public waters and land at risk to the oil industry if Bernhardt becomes the Sec. of the Interior. His confirmation hearings start March 30, 2019. Photo: Ramona du Houx

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LWCF Permanently Reauthorized with Help of Veterans who are Elected Officials

Article in Maine Insights on March 12, 2019

By Ramona du Houx

In an historic victory for public lands and outdoor recreation, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was permanently reauthorized on March 12, 2019, as part of a sweeping public lands package signed into law by President Donald Trump.

The legislation, as part of the U.S. S.47 - John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the House (363-62) and the Senate (92-8) in February, making it veto proof.

This is the culmination of a years-long effort by Congressional champions on both sides of the aisle and by stakeholders across the country to preserve the unique character of this program, funded by revenues from offshore oil and gas royalty payments.

An unique group of 80 veterans who are elected officials, The Elected Officials to Protect America’s Lands (EOPA), signed and sent a letter to the Interior Secretary in support of reauthorizing the LWCF last August. A week after some of them met with eight senators on Capitol Hill the LWCF funding bill, that had been languishing in committee, was approved. Continued pressure from EOPA didn’t stop until it passed the US House and Senate. Now it’s the law of the land.

“This is a milestone for America’s public lands and every American. In the military we fight side-by-side with our brothers, never politicly branding one another. Our lives depend on us working together. The lives of our people depend on Congress doing the same,” said Former Maine State Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, who served in the Marines in Iraq and is now a Lieutenant in the Navy Reserves, and EOPA co-founder. “While we applaud the champions in the House and Senate for their bipartisan cooperation there’s more to do. We look forward to working on both sides of the aisle to secure full, dedicated LWCF funding.”

While the new law permanently renews LWCF it does not fully fund it at the $900 million a year authorized in the original LWCF bill. Instead, it leaves funding to the annual appropriations process.

EOPA is the only group of serving elected officials who are also veterans, dedicated to preserving and protecting America’s public lands for all.

“By doing so we are continuing the Constitutional vows, we take as veterans and elected officials, to preserve and protect our nation. We will continue to fight for the protection of our outdoor heritage,” added Cornell du Houx.

LWCF is America’s most important conservation program, responsible for protecting parks, wildlife refuges and recreation areas at the federal, state and local level. For 50 years, it has provided critical funding for land and water conservation projects, recreational construction and activities and the continued historic preservation of our nation’s iconic landmarks from coast-to- coast.

Outdoor recreation, conservation and historic preservation activities contribute more than $887 billion annually to the U.S. economy, supporting 7.6 million jobs.

Members of the Elected Officials to Protect America's Lands met with Sen. Rob Wyden, and other U.S. Senators, on Sept 6th on Capitol Hill to urge the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Sen Wyden, and all the Congressional members they met met with are supportive of the LWCF becoming fully funded. From left to right in the back: State Sen. Rick Kolowski (NE), Asm. Felix Ortiz (NY) US Senator Rob Wyden, State Rep. Paul Evans, Former State Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, (ME) Delegate Pat Young (MD). In the front: State Rep. Debbie Sarinana,(NM) and Rep. Michael Sheehy (OH).

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Do not let Bernhardt, oil lobbyist, become Sec. of the Interior

Op-ed by Rep. Paul Evans

The federal shutdown brought destruction to our parks with brimming trashcans, overflowing toilets, and trespassers. Crater Lake closed because forest rangers worried that human feces could overflow into the lake. The eco-systems could take decades to repair.

Oregonians understand that sustainability of our place and people depends on us – all of us. We maintain a special relationship with our environment: it transcends ideology, party, and socio-economic station. That’s why I stand with the Elected Officials to Protect America’s Lands (EOPA). We are the only group of serving elected officials who are also veterans, dedicated to preserving and protecting America’s public lands for all. By doing so we are continuing the Constitutional vows, we take as veterans and elected officials, to preserve and protect our nation.

Last summer, 80 of us, signed and sent a letter to the Interior Secretary in support of reauthorizing The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). A week after we held congressional meetings with senators on Capitol Hill the LWCF funding bill, that had been languishing in committee, was approved. Recently the Senate passed sweeping conservation legislation which included LWCF funding. Now it’s the law of the land.

Last year Oregon, and our neighboring states, experienced some of the most devastating fires due to climate change. Even our air quality suffered from the Camp Fires in California. A federal and a UN report stated that if we don’t mitigate climate change there will be more catastrophic weather events. Bold action is needed now.

Our stewardship helps mitigate the effects of climate change by keeping our lands public for all to enjoy, and by keeping them out of the hands of polluting corporate interests.

Over the past 40-plus years, the LWCF program has provided more than $3.9 billion in grants funding projects in just about every county in the country. In the Mid-Willamette Valley, the LWCF helped fund the Keizer Rapids Community Park Acquisition, the Stettheimer Park Skate Park, and the Champoeg Park Visitor Center projects, as well as hundreds of other projects throughout the State of Oregon. Since 2000, Oregon has received over $10,000,000 in grants from the LWCF enabling millions more in leveraged programming. Simply put, these projects would not have been possible absent LWCF support.

Our public lands serve as a place where families can camp, fish, swim, sail, hunt, and enjoy the outdoors. Being able to enjoy our public lands for free or very little cost brings us closer to true equality. Seeing them close because of the shutdown told us the Trump administration doesn’t care about us.

Now, I’m worried because the President’s nominee for Interior Secretary, David Bernhardt, is an ex- oil lobbyist with deep ties to corporate polluters. In a year and a half, Bernhardt has made his mark on public lands by reversing key Obama-era climate change policies, and more recently, prioritizing oil and gas drilling at the expense of furloughed government employees. He has helped narrow habitat protections for endangered species, and is pushing California to divert more of its water from conservation.

He has a solid track record of doing favors for his industry friends at our expense. Bernhardt's ties to the fossil fuel industry are so numerous, he is rumored to have to carry a card with him to keep track of his potential conflicts of interest.

Bernhardt’s has too many conflicts of interest and his recent deeds clearly show his loyalties are not with the American public. He should never be appointed. Our national treasures and must be managed with care under the leadership of someone who will defend and uphold the integrity of the Interior Department.

Protection of our air, lands, and waterways is a shared responsibility. As a home-grown Oregonian, as a state legislator, and as a veteran I believe it is our duty to stand up for future generations. Over the past few years we have taken steps to increase access and affordability to our natural spaces.

One of the rights we veterans fought for is the freedom of access for all Americans to our public lands. Any Interior Secretary should uphold the agency’s mission to protect our public lands while upholding the Constitutional vows they take. We must keep Bernhard from stealing our birth right to access America’s public lands. 

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Join me in to keep Bernhard from stealing our birth right to access America’s public lands

By State Rep. Debra Sariñana, math teacher and military veteran

New Mexicans were disheartened and angered about government shutdown. According to a WalletHub study, New Mexico was one of the hardest hit, especially our outdoor recreation economy, which generates $9.9 billion in consumer spending annually and employs 99,000. Our public lands were directly threatened. We still don’t know the damage done to our ecosystems and cultural heritage.

Some of my most enduring childhood memories are of seeing Albuquerque from the top of the Sandia Mountains. That view always fills me with hope, and the belief, that we the people can do anything.

When I became a mother the Sandia experiences inspired me to take my children to La Luz Trail, Both Park Lake and Blue Hole—with its crystal-clear cavern it’s one of the most unique geological phenomena in the Southwest.

My father loved to tell my son, Dominic, about the slight cliff ledge over Blue Hole and how diving off it into the depths was transformational. The more my father told him stories, the more Blue Hole beckoned him. When the day dawned for Dominic to take flight off the cliff into the water you could feel the tension and excitement. It was a seminal experience for us all.

As a mother and veteran, both my children have honored me with their service to our country. My daughter, Samantha, is in the Air Force, as I was. Dominic is a Marine.

I’m very proud Dominic served in Afghanistan, but I'm never happier than when he returns home. After his last tour he insisted on climbing the Sandia Mountains. He said they looked like Afghanistan. After he went, the tension that had accompanied him home seemed to dissipate. He was rejuvenated. Now, he’d really come home.

Sometimes, I don’t know how to start a conversation to discuss his wartime service. I don’t know if he wants to talk about it. Many of us face that same dilemma with veterans when they return stateside. How do you connect with an experience that is so different from our day-to-day lives? How can we understand places so different to what we call home? Our landscape reconnected him, cleared his mind and truly brought him home to me.

I wonder if he ever compares New Mexico to Afghanistan and sees that since we’ve come a long way as a nation, so can they. Or if going to our mountains is something more basic, something everyone who has been there can understand. The peace, the serenity, the truth of nature can help heal any soul.

Our public lands serve as a place where families can camp, fish, swim, sail, hunt, and enjoy the outdoors. Being able to enjoy our public lands for free or very little cost brings us closer to true equality. Seeing them closed because of the shutdown told us the Trump administration doesn’t care about us.

Many of our public lands have been protected and looked after by grants from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The Sandia Foothills are just one of 84 LWCF grant projects in Bernalillo County. The fund makes it possible for city projects, bringing nature to everyone. Over the past 40 years, the LWCF program has provided more than $3.9 billion in grants, funding projects in just about every county in the country.

These are the reasons why I’ve joined the Elected Officials to Protect America’s Land, the only group of serving elected officials who are veterans dedicated to preserving and protecting America’s public lands for all. By doing so, we are continuing the Constitutional vows we take as veterans and elected officials to preserve and protect our nation.

Last summer, 80 of us, signed and sent a letter to the Interior Secretary in support of reauthorizing LWCF. A week after we held congressional meetings with senators on Capitol Hill the LWCF funding bill, that had been languishing in committee, was approved. Recently the Senate passed sweeping conservation legislation which included LWCF funding. Now it’s the law.

But I’m still worried because of the President’s nominee for Interior Secretary, David Bernhardt, is an ex- oil lobbyist with deep ties to corporate polluters.

In a year and a half, Bernhardt has made his mark on public lands by reversing key Obama-era climate change policies, and more recently, prioritizing oil and gas drilling at the expense of furloughed government employees. He has helped narrow habitat protections for endangered species, and is pushing California to divert more of its water from conservation.

He has a solid track record of doing favors for his industry friends at our expense. Bernhardt's ties to the fossil fuel industry are so numerous, he is rumored to have to carry a card with him to keep track of his potential conflicts of interest. Bernhardt’s has too many conflicts of interest and his recent deeds clearly show his loyalties are not with the American public. He should not be appointed.

 As veterans who are lawmakers, one of the freedoms we fight for is to protect access to public lands for all. The Department of the Interior Secretary should uphold the agency’s mission to protect our public lands for future generations.

Join me in to keep Bernhard from stealing our birth right to access America’s public lands. 

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If we don’t stand behind our natural resources, we risk losing them forever

Op-ed by State Sen. David Parks (NV)

The people of Nevada maintain a special relationship with our environment that transcends ideology, party, and socio-economic station. Recreating in our public lands can bring us closer to our families and friends. Surrounded by a breathtaking landscape recharges our batteries, renewing our souls.

President Theodore Roosevelt established approximately 230 million acres of national forests and parks, wildlife reserves and 18 national monuments. He once said, “I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land, but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us. Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of insuring the safety and continuance of the nation.”

Our national legacy of a million square miles of publicly owned lands makes America unique, but it’s being sacrificed to oil and gas interests, under the President’s nominee for Interior Secretary, David Bernhardt, an ex- oil lobbyist with deep ties to corporate polluters.

In a year and a half, Bernhardt has made his mark on public lands by reversing key Obama-era climate change policies, and more recently, prioritizing oil and gas drilling at the expense of furloughed government employees. He has helped narrow habitat protections for endangered species, and is pushing California to divert more of its water from conservation.

He has a solid track record of doing favors for his industry friends at our expense. Bernhardt's ties to the fossil fuel industry are so numerous, he is rumored to have to carry a card with him to keep track of his potential conflicts of interest. Bernhardt’s has too many conflicts of interest and his recent deeds clearly show his loyalties are not with the American public.

Under his direction government shutdown rolled out a welcome mat for the oil and gas industry, while breaking multiple federal laws, and running over our rights. He should not be appointed.

During the shutdown our National Parks lost an estimated $400,000 a day in entrance fees. Before the shutdown the park service already had a massive $11 billion maintenance backlog.

That’s why I stand with the Elected Officials to Protect America’s Lands. We are the only group of serving elected officials who are also veterans, dedicated to preserving and protecting America’s public lands for all. By doing so we are continuing the Constitutional vows, we take as veterans and elected officials, to preserve and protect our nation.

Last summer, 80 of us, signed and sent a letter to the Interior Secretary in support of reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). A week after we held congressional meetings with senators on Capitol Hill the LWCF funding bill, that had been languishing in committee, was approved. Recently the Senate passed sweeping conservation legislation which included LWCF funding. Now it is the law of the land.

My Senate District, located in the southeast Las Vegas Valley, is home to the Las Vegas Wash and the Clark County Wetlands Park — the largest park in the Clark County park system. Close to $400,000 was awarded to the Clark County Wetlands Park Erosion Control project from LWCF. Our Sunset Park Ball field received over $90,000. Back when the LWCF was established close to $600,000 was granted for Houssel Ranch and over $2 million for the purchase of Lake Tahoe.

Nevada’s national parks garner over five million visitors each year. Since 2002 alone Nevada has received over $7 million in LWCF funds for projects.

Over $4.2 billion has been made available to state and local governments to fund more than 43,000 conservation projects throughout the U.S. from the LWCF, since 1965.

America’s public lands are national treasures and must be managed with care. One of the rights we veterans fought for is the freedom of access for all Americans to our public lands. I believe it is our duty to stand up for future generations.

If we don’t stand behind our natural resources, we risk losing them forever.

The destructive policies of Bernhardt will rob present and future Americans of their right to enjoy their public-lands legacy, if we don’t take action.  So, make sure he does not become the Sec. of the Interior.

Lake Tahoe, NV

 

 

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Maryland's blue crabs at risk with Trump's Interior Department

Op-ed by Delegate Pat Young

The people of Maryland understand that the sustainability of our lands depends on us – all of us. We know that proper stewardship of these lands is essential to the continued health of our communities, State and Nation which we all serve.

I stand with an unique group of individuals who are both Veterans and elected officials. Today we hold another common bond, that of being a part of the Elected Officials to Protect America’s Land. We are dedicated to the preservation and protection of America’s public lands. We feel that this is our duty, as veterans who served to protect this nation from threats foreign and as elected officials who serve to craft sound domestic policy in the best interest of our constituents.

Last summer, 80 of us signed and sent a letter to the Interior Secretary in support of the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. We visited seven Senator’s offices in D.C. to voice our staunch defense of the LWCF. A week after our meetings on Capitol Hill legislation containing language to permanently fund the LWCF was voted out of committee. Recently the Senate passed sweeping conservation legislation which included LWCF funding. Now it’s law.

But President Trump’s tenure we’ve seen the largest reduction of protected lands in American history and more companies apply for permits to explore drilling and mining. The oil and gas industries aren’t keen on the LWCF for multiple reasons. One being, the funds it uses come from offshore oil and gas royalties, not from taxpayers.

According to federal and United Nations reports if we don’t mitigate climate change there will be more catastrophic weather events. Two other reports revealed that our ocean temperatures are rising far faster than projected.

We now know that our fishing industries are at risk because of climate change. Our prized blue crabs may vanish. A recent ICCP report confirmed that in 2017 and 2018 CO2 in the atmosphere increased at drastic rates. CO2 rains down into our oceans softening the shells of our crabs, muscles and oysters. Thousands of jobs are at stake, as well as our culture, because of this ocean acidification along with rising ocean temperatures.

Being good stewards means taking care of our public land and waterways. Without protections and investments for our public lands, climate change will worsen.

We must be proactive. The permanent reauthorization of the LWCF helps. Since its inception in 1964, Maryland has received over $200,000 million from the LWCF in grants, that have been matched by the state and/or non-profits guaranteeing the stewardship of our public lands.

The LWCF has provided recreational opportunities to all Americans and has been a source of revenue for states and local governments as well as a huge job creator. The Bureau of Economic Analysis concluded that every $1.00 of LWCF investment yields a return of at least $4.00 in value.

America’s public lands are national treasures and must be managed with care. We can find a balance between smart development and conservation rather than giving handouts to oil, gas and mining interests.

One of the rights we veterans fought for is the freedom of access for all Americans to our public lands. But the President’s nominee for Interior Secretary, David Bernhardt, is an ex- oil lobbyist with deep ties to corporate polluters.

In a year and a half, Bernhardt has made his mark on public lands by reversing key Obama-era climate change policies, and more recently, prioritizing oil and gas drilling at the expense of furloughed government employees.

He has a solid track record of doing favors for his industry friends at our expense. Bernhardt's ties to the fossil fuel industry are so numerous, he is rumored to have to carry a card with him to keep track of his potential conflicts of interest. Bernhardt’s has too many conflicts of interest and his recent deeds clearly show his loyalties are not with the American public. He should not be appointed.

Please, join me not letting an oil lobbyist, Bernhardt, become Sec. of the Interior so we all can breathe easier and know future generations will be able to enjoy our blue crabs and recreate in our public lands, which embody our American spirit. It is our duty to stand up for future generations. Protecting our public lands is our first line of defense against climate change.

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Don’t let the President rob part of Montana’s soul

Op-ed by State Sen. Frank Smith (MT)

The people of Montana maintain a special relationship with our environment that transcends ideology, party, and socio-economic station. It’s a part of our soul.

Soon after President Theodore Roosevelt established approximately 230 million acres of national forests and parks, wildlife reserves and 18 national monuments he said, “I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land, but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us. Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of insuring the safety and continuance of the nation.”

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) continues his legacy. Created 52 years ago it protects our public lands with conservation and recreation purposes.

But during the government shutdown the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rolled out a welcome mat for the oil and gas industry, while breaking multiple federal laws. President Trump’s nominee for Interior Secretary, David Bernhardt, used the shutdown to ignore laws that protect our air, water, wildlife and public lands.

Bernhardt, is an ex- oil lobbyist with deep ties to corporate polluters.

In a year and a half, Bernhardt has made his mark on public lands by reversing key Obama-era climate change policies, and more recently, prioritizing oil and gas drilling at the expense of furloughed government employees.

He has a solid track record of doing favors for his industry friends at our expense. Bernhardt's ties to the fossil fuel industry are so numerous, he is rumored to have to carry a card with him to keep track of his potential conflicts of interest.

Bernhardt’s has too many conflicts of interest and his recent deeds clearly show his loyalties are not with the American public.

Our National Parks lost an estimated $400,000 a day in entrance fees. Before the shutdown the park service already had a massive $11 billion maintenance backlog. LWCF will be needed to help our parks recover from the shutdown and to diminish their maintenance backlog.

Montana has received approximately $602.4 million in LWCF funding over the past five decades, protecting places such as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Rocky Mountain Front, Glacier National Park. LWCF state assistance grants have supported hundreds of projects across our state and local parks including Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, Lone Pine State Park in Flathead County and hundreds of fishing access sites.

Montana’s outdoor recreation generates $7.1 billion annually in consumer spending, and supports 71,000 jobs. The U.S. Census reports that over 950,000 people hunt, fish or watch wildlife in Montana each year, spending over $1.1 billion.

Within Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front and Blackfoot River Watershed, conservation easements – largely funded by LWCF through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are being used to conserve thousands of acres and maintain the regions ranching history.

LWCF is about doing what’s right for the land – conserving acres, preventing development, creating wide open spaces, and leaving habitat for wildlife, predators, and ranchers. Over $4.2 billion has been made available to state and local governments to fund more than 43,000 conservation projects throughout the U.S. from the LWCF, since 1965.

America’s public lands are national treasures and must be managed with care. One of the rights we veterans fought for is the freedom of access for all Americans to our public lands. It is our duty to stand up for future generations.

That’s why I stand with the Elected Officials to Protect America’s Lands. We are the only group of serving elected officials who are also veterans, dedicated to preserving and protecting America’s public lands for all. By doing so we are continuing the Constitutional vows, we take as veterans and elected officials, to preserve and protect our nation.

Last summer, 80 of us, signed and sent a letter to the Interior Secretary in support of reauthorizing the LWCF. A week after we held congressional meetings with senators on Capitol Hill the LWCF funding bill, that had been languishing in committee, was approved. Recently the Senate passed sweeping conservation legislation which included LWCF funding. Now it’s the law of the land.

We understand stewardship of our public lands is something to fight for because we’ve experienced what happens when they are abused.

No one has the right to rob generations of their right to recreate in our public lands.  

If we don’t stand behind our natural resources, we risk losing them forever. Please join me to stop Bernhardt become the Sec. of the Interior, so future generations will be able exercise their right to recreate in our public lands which embody American’s soul.

 

 

 

 

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Do NOT let Bernhardt, oil lobbyist, become Sec. of the Interior

Op-ed by Rep. Paul Evans

The federal shutdown brought destruction to our parks with brimming trashcans, overflowing toilets, and trespassers. Crater Lake closed because forest rangers worried that human feces could overflow into the lake. The eco-systems could take decades to repair.

Oregonians understand that sustainability of our place and people depends on us – all of us. We maintain a special relationship with our environment: it transcends ideology, party, and socio-economic station. That’s why I stand with the Elected Officials to Protect America’s Lands (EOPA). We are the only group of serving elected officials who are also veterans, dedicated to preserving and protecting America’s public lands for all. By doing so we are continuing the Constitutional vows, we take as veterans and elected officials, to preserve and protect our nation.

Last year Oregon, and our neighboring states, experienced some of the most devastating fires due to climate change. Even our air quality suffered from the Camp Fires in California. A federal and a UN report stated that if we don’t mitigate climate change there will be more catastrophic weather events. Bold action is needed now.

Our stewardship helps mitigate the effects of climate change by keeping our lands public for all to enjoy, and by keeping them out of the hands of polluting corporate interests.

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