Nra Pressured To Resist Bush Energy Policies:, More emphasis on oil and gas than hunter
Jan 7 2007, 04:12 AM
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NRA Pressured To Resist Bush Energy Policies
Hunters Wary of Limited Land Access
By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 7, 2007; Page A03
SEATTLE -- After years of close association with the Republican Party and hard-nosed opposition to federal land-use regulation, the National Rifle Association is being pressured by its membership to distance itself from President Bush's energy policies that have opened more public land for oil and gas drilling and limited access to hunters and anglers.
"The Bush administration has placed more emphasis on oil and gas than access rights for hunters," said Ronald L. Schmeits, second vice president of the NRA, a member of its board of directors and a bank president in Raton, N.M.
The new emphasis on the issue of access to public lands, which Schmeits said is at the "discussion" level among the NRA's directors, would represent a strategic shift for the NRA, whose leadership in Washington has long maintained that its 4 million members were not complaining or even asking questions about access to public lands.
But, during the past six years, an increasing number of the country's 46 million hunters and anglers, including Republican-leaning shooting organizations such as the Boone and Crockett Club, have been grumbling about the Bush's administration fast-tracking of oil and gas drilling leases on public lands.
"We find that our members are having a harder time finding access to public land," said Schmeits, who recently pushed the NRA to lobby for congressional protection of the game-rich Valle Vidal forest on federal land in New Mexico. "Gun rights are still number one, but there will be more time and effort spent on this issue (by NRA leaders) as we move forward."<s>
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