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The NRA and environmentalists on the same side

Friday, May 11, 2007

Some members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) are furious with President Bush and “Dead-Eye” Dick Cheney. At first I thought ‘how could this be?’ Vice President Cheney, while not the best of shots, often speaks at NRA annual meetings, and President Bush had NRA Chief Wayne LaPierre down to the ranch in Crawford for a little R and R.

But the problem isn’t rifles, it’s drill rigs. The Washington Post reported that NRA members including Ronald L. Schmeits, second vice president of the NRA, a member of its board of directors and a bank president in Raton, N.M., are angry that the two oilmen have encouraged energy companies to overrun hunting areas with roads and rigs.

"The Bush administration has placed more emphasis on oil and gas than access rights for hunters," Schmeits said. "We find that our members are having a harder time finding access to public land."

Drilling in big game habitats on public lands in the Rocky Mountain West has doubled this decade, driving away big game and pushing sportsmen out of their favorite hunting spots. The kicker is that the 2,053 wells drilled each year since 2001 have devastated the landscape while producing only a modest amount of energy – about 7 percent of U.S. natural gas consumption. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy estimated that by 2020 the U.S. could be saving about the same amount of energy per year produced from the game habitats by implementing efficiency standards for several appliances not yet covered by federal rules.

Another great idea from our government: Punch holes in the ground from Montana to New Mexico while at the same time angering sportsmen and at the end of the day producing results that would garner an F in any classroom in America. I mean, it seems to me that doubling the number of wells would hopefully produce a little more than a 7 percent bump in product. But, then again, putting political appointees and federal policies in place to achieve even a modicum of success isn’t what this Administration does best. It does go to show that even those organizations and the people who belong to them, like the NRA, that have done the heavy lifting to put this Administration in power, will always lose out to the biggest winner by far over the last 6 and half years – the energy industry.

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