The Senate and House returned to Washington, D.C., following the election.
Army Corps Denies Pebble Permit
Last Wednesday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) denied Pebble Partnership, an industrial mining company, a permit for a proposed gold and copper mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska. USACE came to this conclusion after citing the proposed project’s noncompliance with the Clean Water Act, polluting critical fish and wildlife habitat. However, a permit denial can be easily reversed by reapplying for the permit if the proposed project changes in anyway. BHA continues to urge the Environmental Protection Agency to protect Bristol Bay by using section 404c of the Clean Water Act to veto mining in the region permanently.
For nearly a decade, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has been working alongside Alaskans and more than 1 million American sportsmen, women and businesses to conserve Bristol Bay. Located in southwest Alaska, Bristol Bay encompasses one of the world’s most robust salmon fisheries as well as habitat relied upon by a range of game species that includes caribou, moose and black bear. Bristol Bay is also the historical home of Native Alaskan communities and supports more than 14,000 jobs in the fishing industry, fueling a sustainable economy critical to Alaska. Hunters, anglers, commercial fishermen and communities across Alaska agree that this is no place for an ecologically disastrous gold and copper mining complex.
Veterans Outdoor Legislation Passed Congress
The Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act (AVROA), bipartisan and bicameral legislation introduced by Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Steve Daines (R-MT) and Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Adam Smith (D-WA), passed in the Senate by voice vote as part of a larger packaged, the Veterans COMPACT Act (H.R. 8247). H.R. 8247 passed out of the House in late September.
AVROA establishes a yearlong interagency task force between the Department of Veterans Affairs, Interior, Agriculture, Army Corps of Engineers, and others to identify opportunities and barriers and develop recommendations to better facilitate the use of public lands for promoting health and wellness for veterans acclimating back to civilian life.
Join us in thanking our lawmakers for supporting our servicemen and women and for understanding the value of our public lands and waters.
Secretarial Order on LWCF Implementation
On Nov. 13, Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt released a secretarial order restricting the implementation of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The order adds a litany of new rules governing deployment of LWCF funds, including eliminating outright funds for projects enabling land acquisition by the Bureau of Land Management and infringing on private landowner rights by stipulating that state and local officials can veto LWCF-funded land acquisitions from willing sellers who are dedicated to the conservation and stewardship of our natural resources.
We do not expect the administration's secretarial order to do much, since only a few weeks remain before this administration transitions into a new one. However, Congress is not bound to Secretary Bernhardt’s order and continues to have oversight over the fiscal year 2021 LWCF project list that follows the program’s original intent. BHA is working closely with appropriators in advancing the FY2021 project list.