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Report Identifies Top 15 'Public Lands Enemies' in Congress

Lawmakers From Eight Western States Trying to Open Door to More Oil, Gas Drilling, Logging, Mining

WASHINGTON - The Center for Biological Diversity released a report today identifying the top 15 members of Congress trying to seize, destroy, dismantle and privatize America’s public lands. These “Public Lands Enemies” are part of a growing movement to industrialize public lands for profit, including increased exploitation for oil and gas drilling, fracking, logging, mining and development.

The Center’s report analyzed 132 bills that were introduced in the past three congressional sessions and the lawmakers who authored and cosponsored the bills. 

“These 15 members of Congress are trying to turn America’s public lands into an open cash register for corporations,” said Randi Spivak, the Center’s public lands director. “For everyone who cares about our national forests, wildlife refuges, national parks and monuments, these elected officials need to be watched very closely and opposed at every step.” 

The Public Lands Enemies list includes nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives and six U.S. senators from eight western states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. These members consistently put the narrow interests of extractive industries ahead of native wildlife, habitat protection, clean water and clean air. The report includes in depth dossiers of each public lands enemy. 

The 15 Public Lands Enemies are: 

1. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)
2. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah, 1st District)
3. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
4. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz., 4th District)
5. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)
6. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah, 2nd District) 
7. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska, at large)
8. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) 
9. Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho, 1st District) 
10. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah, 3rd District) 
11. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev., 2nd District) 
12. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) 
13. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M., 2nd District)

14. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif., 4th District) 
15. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) 

America’s public lands are some of the country’s most iconic and cherished places, from Yellowstone National Park and the Sierra Nevada Mountains’ Range of Light to Big Cypress Preserve in Florida, the vast wilderness of Alaska and the wilds of Maine. More than 600 million acres are held in the federal trust — lands that provide respite and inspiration for people, habitat for wildlife and clean air and clean water around the country. 

“The ultimate goal of these politicians is to wrest control of these lands out of public hands,” Spivak said. “Whether by giving away the title or management control to states, their aim is to give corporate polluters and extractive industries free rein, robbing future generations of wild places.” 

Recently Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Public Lands Enemy #2, asked federal budget writers to set aside $50 million in taxpayer funds to facilitate giving public lands to the states and called for “a paradigm shift in our nation’s approach to federal land management.” 

The report also looks at who funds these lawmakers. Not surprisingly, they receive generous contributions from the fossil fuel and other extractive industries, including the Koch Industries, Exxon, Arch Coal and BP.

“The Bundy clan’s attempt to seize federal land by force last year may be viewed as extreme — but these members of Congress share the same end goals: the dismantlement of the federal land system,” Spivak said. 


Public lands enemies


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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.

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