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Blog

Our favorite stories about public lands and opportunities for you to get involved in protecting your outdoor experiences.

 

New Orders on Energy Independence Threaten to Cut the Public Out of Public Lands

Tania Lown-Hecht

Photo credit: Elodie Saracco

Photo credit: Elodie Saracco

Recent Executive and Secretarial Orders have dictated that America should pursue “energy independence” at the expense of other uses on public lands. Legally, most public lands must be managed for multiple use – meaning that stakeholders like developers, outdoor recreation, environment, and agriculture all get a voice about how and where their activities should happen. Energy development and outdoor recreation are both valid uses of public lands that generate significant revenue. We believe that public lands will yield the most benefits for Americans when we balance these uses to optimize their economic benefits and reduce conflicts.

These orders (Secretarial Order 3349 and Executive Order 13783) threaten multiple use on public lands, especially recreation and public access. The orders direct agencies like the Department of the Interior to establish task forces of “significantly affected” entitles to weigh in on new energy development. However, right now, no outdoor recreation groups (or conservation groups) have been included in these task forces, which means that outdoor recreation could be cut out of the decision-making process on public lands.

What’s the potential impact on public lands and outdoor recreation?

As these task forces move to increase energy development on public lands, this could have a significant impact on the public’s access to outdoor recreation and the quality of landscapes. Energy development, including mining, drilling, and extraction, often has significant negative effects on where you go and what you like to do outside. It can damage roads, scenic beauty, air and water quality, soundscapes, sensitive natural resources, and your safety.

If these task forces do not include outdoor recreation groups, they would have no say about where and how energy development should or shouldn’t happen. The current laws around public lands require land management agencies to maintain balance among the primary users of public lands. We hope that outdoor recreation users will be included in these upcoming processes.

To read more about what Outdoor Alliance had to say on these Executive Orders, you can click here or on the letter at right.