This opinion piece was written and submitted by Sadie St. Clair-Valdez of Green River, who is the chapter president for Seedskadee Chapter #533 of Trout Unlimited and secretary for the Wyoming Trout Unlimited Council.
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For more than 15 years, Trout Unlimited has worked with diverse partners to advance responsible energy development priorities. We’ve worked with elected officials like Senators Thomas and Barrasso to pass the Wyoming Range Legacy Act in 2009, protecting 1.2 million acres of some of the finest hunting and fishing in Wyoming and at the same time protecting the property rights of oil and gas producers.
Working with Wyoming governors from both parties, we’ve long advocated for a leasing plan that would conserve the fishing and hunting heritage of the Greater Little Mountain Area, while still allowing for oil and gas development when and where it can be done the right way. Trout Unlimited and the energy industry have even worked together to plan development, protect and restore habitat, educate youth and create responsible oil and gas policies.
Trout Unlimited’s policy is to find a balance between the energy needs of this country and the great outdoors. This extends to all energy for the nation’s appetite, including wind and solar, as well as
traditional sources. This approach is the lens through which we view all policy proposals. While we understand concerns with the Administration’s leasing pause and policy review, we don’t see it as a ban ending fossil fuel development on federal lands. This would require an act of Congress to implement, unlikely in the current closely divided Congress.
Instead, we urge all public land stakeholders, the Biden-Harris Administration, and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to focus on sensible, practical reforms that balance energy development with fish and wildlife conservation, modernize outdated laws and regulations that govern energy leasing and development, and foster responsible energy development.
Strategic problem-solving, conserving fish and wildlife, and sustaining jobs in the energy sector are critical to Wyoming, and citizens need forward-thinking leaders. There’s much to do. Congress can facilitate more responsible oil and gas development and more efficient use of taxpayer dollars by passing legislation to curtail speculative leasing, end non-competitive leasing and ensure adequate bonding and reclamation requirements.
With regard to renewable energy, Congress can pass the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act to offset impacts to fish and wildlife habitat from wind and solar development and provide much needed royalty revenue to local governments that depend upon energy production. These actions will reward responsible energy businesses and help balance all multiple uses on public lands, including energy development, recreation, hunting and fishing.
In the meantime, we need to finalize an upfront plan for conservation and energy development in the Greater Little Mountain Area. Finalizing the Rock Springs Resource Management Plan is an action the new Administration and BLM can take to usher in a new era for public lands management in southwest Wyoming.
The fact of the matter is that conservation isn’t a red or blue issue, it’s an issue that can bring people
together for the common good. With sensible, modern policies and practices in place, the nation’s
energy needs can be met without jeopardizing our outdoor heritage – this is something we can all rally
About Trout Unlimited
WY TU represents 1,600 members who share a mission to protect, conserve and restore cold-water fisheries and their watersheds.