Center for Biological Diversity calls for all logging, resource extraction, to be closed down on public lands during government shutdown, writes to Interior secretary claiming government is violating Anti-Deficiency Act, other laws

WASHINGTON , October 15, 2013 (press release) – The Center for Biological Diversity today sent a letter ( to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell urging her to shut down oil and gas drilling, logging and mining on public lands during the government shutdown. The legal notice says the federal government is violating the Anti-Deficiency Act and other laws by continuing to process, approve and conduct these extractive activities during the shutdown.

"A rabid group of House Republicans may be causing this shutdown, but the Obama administration needs to get its priorities straight," said Bill Snape, senior counsel at the Center. "Big Oil should not have access to the public lands that are closed to the American people."

The federal government shutdown, which began Oct. 1, has already caused billions of dollars of economic harm and is preventing the federal government from protecting human health, endangered species and a wide array of publicly owned natural resources and environmental services.

At issue is the Anti-Deficiency Act, a law first passed by Congress in 1884 and amended most recently in 1982. The law's underlying premise is that the federal government cannot spend or authorize money that has not been appropriated to it by Congress. It states, in part, "(a)n officer or employee of the United States Government ... may not ... make or authorize an expenditure or obligation exceeding an amount available in an appropriation or fund for the expenditure or obligation."

Most egregiously, the Interior Department continues to process permits to drill for oil and gas in coastal offshore areas, even as the agency admits that it cannot, and will not, do environmental reviews of these risky actions that caused the BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

"It's absurd that while everyday Americans are locked out during the shutdown, it's business as usual for those reaping a profit from our public lands," said Snape. "These damaging drilling, clearcutting and mining actions must stop as long as the federal government remains shuttered."

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