Tester Prioritizes Montana Jobs and Outdoor Recreation as Major Energy Bill Clears Senate

Legislation will boost responsible natural resource development, expand Montana’s outdoor economy, and invest in public lands

(U.S. Senate)-Senator Jon Tester today praised the passage of the Energy Policy Modernization Act, which will boost natural resource development, expand Montana’s outdoor economy, invest in public lands, and permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. (LWCF).

“Montana has unmatched energy potential and there is no better place in the nation for folks who love to hunt, hike, and fish,” Tester said. “This bill strikes a balance that will protect energy jobs and improve outdoor opportunities for sportsmen, as well as boost Montana’s energy portfolio, invest in our outdoor economy, and increase access to our public lands.”

The Energy Policy Modernization Act contains the following provisions Tester has championed:

  • Permanently reauthorize the LWCF and require at least $10 million to be invested each year to increase public access for hunters and anglers.
  • Direct land managers to identify and develop plans to provide access to high-priority lands for hunting, fishing, and shooting and increase the state’s authority to fund shooting ranges on public lands.
  • Require most BLM and Forest Service lands to be open for hunting, fishing, and shooting.
  • Reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act through 2019.
  • Streamline the permitting process for wind, solar and geothermal development on public lands where development makes the most sense.
  • Extend licenses for Montana’s Clark Canyon and Gibson hydro projects.
  • Allow energy developers on public lands to harness geothermal energy potential without having to go through a lengthy approval process.
  • Authorize $150 million from offshore mineral leasing revenues to address the maintenance backlog at our national parks.
  • Prioritize clean coal research and development by establishing a comprehensive initiative dedicated to clean coal innovation, development, and implementation.

The Senate passed the Energy Policy Modernization Act 85 to 12 and it must now be taken up by the House of Representatives before being signed into law.