“Wildlife and wild places no longer exists by accident or without the intervention of those that truly and deeply care.”
Shane Mahoney, Conservationist.
Hunting, fishing, hiking and camping are experiences that many of us enjoy. They are often long held family traditions. They are often ways we escape the hustle-and bustle of our busy lives and relax with friends. Hunting and fishing are ways to get healthy, great unprocessed food for our families. We understand the balancing relationship between humans and the outdoors. Hunting and fishing are win-win experiences for us, and for the ecosystem.
There is a constant battle for undeveloped land. Industry is trying to expand onto lands that have traditionally been dedicated for outdoor recreation. Conservation groups are fighting to keep as much open space available for us to use. The League of Conservation Voters keeps an eye on the conservation issues that Congress considers. It has given Congressman Reed a 4% rating for 2013, and a 7% lifetime rating. Even though Rep. Reed professes to be a steward of the land, his actions make us question if that is the case.
As of July 21, 2014, Rep. Reed’s campaign had received $133,900 from the Oil and Gas industries. That is higher than any other House member from New York State. Second on the list, Rep. Chris Gibson (NY 19), received $22,400, or 1/6 of Rep. Reed received. The Oil/Gas Industries had donated $238,350 to 18 represents from New York State—Reed received 56%. He is seen as the Oil/Gas’s “Go-To Guy” in New York State to advance their industry. After all, he is a co-chairman of the Congressional Natural Gas Caucus.
One way that Rep. Reed has supported the Oil/Gas Industries is to allow them to drilling on Federally owned Public Lands. Here are some of the legislation that Rep. Reed supported that does just that:
- In 2012, Rep. Reed not only voted for, but co-sponsored, the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act. The DEJA was made up of seven related bills. The bills, in their different ways, would transfer federal lands now used for hunting, fishing and camping to lands that private gas/oil corporations would lease for drilling, or coal industry would use for mining. This Act was passed in the House of Representatives, but rejected in the Senate.
- In 2012 Rep. Reed supported the “Conservation and Economic Growth Act” One bill, H.R. 1505
“would force the American people to surrender their right to hunt, fish, and camp on public lands so that federal agents could have unprecedented new policing authority. H.R. 2578 would also give a private corporation access to clearcut prime public lands in the Tongass National Forest; allow the lethal removal of sea lions from the Columbia River without public involvement and with limited scientific review; cut sensible limits on vehicle access on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area that are designed to protect threatened wildlife; and cut environmental protections for livestock grazing.”
- In 2013, Rep. Reed supported the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act, which has many of the same concepts as the failed 2012 Domestic Energy and Jobs Act. The Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development sent an open letter to the House Natural Resources Committee which goes in detail about their concerns about HR 1965. Part of their letter said:
“Our coalition supports energy development on federal lands that balances production with the conservation of fish and wildlife habitat so that our hunting and angling opportunities are sustained. H.R. 1965 would make it harder to achieve that balance by canceling the Interior Department’s 2010 leasing reforms, requiring a set percentage of nominated acres to be offered for lease regardless of potential impacts to fish and wildlife, and returning to a 2008 plan for oil shale development that fails to safeguard fish, wildlife and water resources.” This bill also was passed by the House but only to die in the Senate.
- In 2013, Rep. Reed voted for the “Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act” which would give the states the responsibility to regulate fracking on the Federal Public Lands in their state. Please realize that:
“The law requires that our public lands be managed for multiple uses. The American public supports conserving the fish and wildlife on those lands and protecting air and water quality,” said Brad Powell, senior policy director of the Sportsmen’s Conservation Project at Trout Unlimited. “Proposed updates to federal fracking rules are a good step forward in sensible regulation of a practice that has changed and expanded dramatically in the past few years. The House bill blocking federal regulation would be a huge step backward.”
The National Wildlife Foundation has a well-researched article about this Act.
- In 2014 the House Republicans proposed the “Lowering Gasoline Prices To Fuel an American That Works Act.” (HR 4899, Roll Call Vote #368), which again calls for the prioritizing on our public lands and waters for other activities as hiking, fishing and hunting. This bill would harm the $646 billion outdoor recreation businesses. It would provide more land off the Atlantic Ocean and California for oil drilling; risking oil spills on public lands for profit making private companies. Rep. Reed supported this bill. The House approved of this bill, and it has been sent to the Senate.
Besides promoting drilling on public hunting lands, Rep. Reed voted to seriously reduce funding for projects designed to protect outdoor recreation. Here are some of those bills that our congressman has supported:
- In 2011 Rep. Reed voted for the “Sweeping Environment Funding and Policy” (HR 1, House Roll Call, vote 147) which ordered massive funding cuts in the budgets that support and protect wildlife, and water ecosystems.
- In 2012 Rep. Reed’s supported HR 4089 which would also weaken conservation protection by rolling back long-standing environmental laws such as the National Environmental Policy, the Wilderness Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
- In 2013 he supported an anti-environmental farm bill, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (HR 1947). Reed supported permanent deep cuts to conservative programs that weakens protections for our forests, wetlands and wildlife. This bill cut funds for tools to deal with extreme weather.
- In February, 2014, Reed voted to support Public Access and Land Improvement Act (HR 2954), a package of pubic land bills that promoted harmful logging that were against the conservation plans and policies of the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the US Forest Service. This bill is being considered by the Senate’s Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Rep. Reed talks about the joys of hunting. Talk is cheap. His voting record tells the real story. Reed had a chance to vote on 13 bills that would have made oil or gas drilling easier. He was absent for one vote, and voted to approve the other 12 bills. He had the opportunity to vote on Wildlife Issues 17 time. He voted for the pro-conservation opinion three times, and against it the other 14 times.
Those facts, coupled with the amount of donations from the Oil/Gas Industries, should make the voters wonder if Rep. Reed will protect outdoor recreation. I have my doubts.
* The issues the League of Conservation Voters monitor are: The Clean Air Act, Clean Energy, Clean Water, Global Warming, Holding Big Oil Accountable, Open Spaces, Toxic Chemicals, Transportation and Wildlife.