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Attorney says laws are out of control

Perry Pendley told members of the PBPA that radicals are influencing environmental rulings every day.

By Julie Breaux
Odessa American

MIDLAND — Environmental extremism has polluted federal laws designed to protect the country’s air, water and endangered species, an attorney with the Mountain States Legal Foundation said.

Perry Pendley, president and chief legal officer of the Colorado-based nonprofit, said the enforcement of seemingly reasonable environmental laws has “gone crazy” courtesy of organizations that are “very, very well-funded by the radical left who go to court every day to stop things.”

At a meeting of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, Pendley cited several legal battles the foundation has been involved in as cautionary tales for otherwise “unsuspecting citizens.”

In Montana, the federal government spent eight years trying to prosecute a Montana man for violating the Endangered Species Act after the man, facing an angry grizzly bear, shot the beast in self-defense.

And in Wyoming, a hunter chose pepper spray to halt a charging bear instead of his rifle, fearing the loss of his hunting license if he killed it. The thought-filled choice led to the man’s mauling.

“That’s scary,” Pendley said, “when a man fears his government more than a killing machine.”

In Austin, the foundation is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a case in which the development of 260 acres of real estate has been halted because a species of cave-dwelling insects is located there.

The foundation is also challenging the ability of Native American tribes to have private property designated as public property on the grounds that it is “sacred.” And Pendley characterized the government’s ability to award contracts based on race and its use of race to determine voting districts as its “second most important issue.”

The PBPA shares Pendley’s concerns, particularly over the issue of access to drilling sites when all the necessary permits have been obtained, PBPA executive vice president Morris Burns said after the lunch.

Burns cited the experience of Conoco, which had acquired leases from the federal Bureau of Land Management to drill in set-aside regions of the Grand Stair-case Escalante area of Utah.

Burns said the Clinton administration prohibited Conoco access to 1 million acres of land when it only had the authority to limit access to 10,000 acres.

“So, nobody calls his hand on it. Conoco had spent the money, had done seismic, had leased the land. They didn’t get their money back for the lease…” Burns said. “Some industry regulations make chaos out of order.”

Burns said the association isn’t advocating undoing existing environmental regulations. It simply supports “common sense” rules and regulations that ensure a company that has met all the legal requirements to conduct business can do so without overzealous interference by government regulators.

“We’ve got what I call ‘second lieutenant syndrome,’ ” Burns said. “Here’s a guy who just got out of officer training school, and he’s going to show everybody how tough he is.”

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