The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Bill Snape, (202) 536-9351,

Ban Sought on Drilling, Mining, Logging on Public Lands During Government Shutdown


The Center for Biological Diversity today sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell urging her to shut down oil and gas drilling, logging and mining on public lands during the government shutdown. The legal notice says the federal government is violating the Anti-Deficiency Act and other laws by continuing to process, approve and conduct these extractive activities during the shutdown.

"A rabid group of House Republicans may be causing this shutdown, but the Obama administration needs to get its priorities straight," said Bill Snape, senior counsel at the Center. "Big Oil should not have access to the public lands that are closed to the American people."

The federal government shutdown, which began Oct. 1, has already caused billions of dollars of economic harm and is preventing the federal government from protecting human health, endangered species and a wide array of publicly owned natural resources and environmental services.

At issue is the Anti-Deficiency Act, a law first passed by Congress in 1884 and amended most recently in 1982. The law's underlying premise is that the federal government cannot spend or authorize money that has not been appropriated to it by Congress. It states, in part, "(a)n officer or employee of the United States Government ... may not ... make or authorize an expenditure or obligation exceeding an amount available in an appropriation or fund for the expenditure or obligation."

Most egregiously, the Interior Department continues to process permits to drill for oil and gas in coastal offshore areas, even as the agency admits that it cannot, and will not, do environmental reviews of these risky actions that caused the BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

"It's absurd that while everyday Americans are locked out during the shutdown, it's business as usual for those reaping a profit from our public lands," said Snape. "These damaging drilling, clearcutting and mining actions must stop as long as the federal government remains shuttered."

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

(520) 623-5252