Friday, September 26, 2008

AAE Letter To Bingaman

September 23, 2008

The Honorable Jeff Bingaman
Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee
304 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Mr. Chairman:

The recent announcement that the U.S. Department of Interior Inspector General has opened an investigation into possible illegal coordination between lobbyists for environmental groups and federal officials of the National Landscape Conservation System calls for an immediate investigation and hearings by your committee. We encourage you to undertake this action immediately and before the upcoming November election due to the nature of the potential impact such alleged activities may have now and in the new Administration.

Because the focus of the IG investigation is centered on potential illegal conduct involving two giant national environmental groups – the National Wildlife Federation and the Wilderness Society -- with extensive political agendas and interests in many areas subject to the Interior Department’s jurisdiction, it is imperative that you immediately ascertain if this is an isolated incident, or evidence of a pattern of criminal behavior that may extend to other offices in the Department.

The National Wildlife Federation and the Wilderness Society are multi-million dollar enterprises with clear national political and environmental agendas that require action by many federal departments, agencies and the Congress. Needless to say, the brazen conduct of holding regular meetings that reportedly illegally coordinated lobbying efforts and activities between these two groups and the NCLS is quite disturbing. It begs the question whether these contacts and reported coordination of illegal lobbying activities was limited to this one federal office, or whether it was the point of contact where federal officials could help the National Wildlife Federation and the Wilderness Society extend this activity elsewhere within the Interior Department?

One has to wonder that because this alleged illegal activity was being conducted apparently in the open with several environmental groups in attendance, whether the leadership of these groups would also attempt to encourage this behavior in other federal offices in pursuit of their lobby agenda. In addition, published reports where apparently jobs were being discussed also calls into question whether this activity is designed to place individuals into sensitive government jobs that then are controlled by these environmental groups, both now and in the next Administration.

This investigation also calls into question any action that might be taken this year on S. 3213, particularly the inclusion of the “National Landscape Conservation System Act” (S. 1139), until this situation is concluded. The cloud hanging over the NCLS alone should disqualify any consideration of this legislation this year. The allegations of collusion between the national environmental groups lobbying hard for this bill and the staff of the Interior agency that would be the subject of this legislation are enough under any reasonable assessment to shelve this legislation immediately until justice takes its course.

Frankly, the possibilities of more widespread corruption are staggering. Your Committee is in a very important position to take the leadership necessary to open this investigation and assert your oversight in this troubling abuse of the public trust. We urge this be done immediately and that you begin to shine the disinfecting light of sunshine on this matter.


J. Greg Schnacke
President & CEO
Americans for American Energy

cc: The Honorable Dirk Kempthorne

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