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INHOFE QUESTIONS WITNESSES AT SUBCOMMITTEE HEARING ON EPA REGULATIONS, HSUS FUNDING
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today questioned witnesses before the EPW Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife during a hearing on S.659, The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015.” The hearing was chaired by subcommittee chairman Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), and included witnesses Jeff Crane, President of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation; Dale Hall, CEO of Ducks Unlimited; and Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
Inhofe asked Jeff Crane about how to prevent EPA from regulating lead in bullets and fishing lures:
Inhofe: I have to say this, in your opening statement, you talk about coming from a hunting family. Back when I enjoyed life, I never missed a day of goose season in Oklahoma. People don’t realize we have one of the big fly aways through there. In fact, I had the first ten gage full choke 36 inch double barrel shotgun and people wondered how in the world I was getting them out further than anybody else. But anyway, that’s not my question. My question is you heard the statement Mr. Pacelle said about lead ammunition, what effect would it have if you left EPA in that regulatory position? For lead ammunition?
Crane: Again Senator, a couple of points. First of all, I want to clarify that there are not readily available, or widely available alternatives to lead. 95 percent of current ammunition is lead or copper based. Secondly, the price of that is probably four times or more should it be available so while it may not be important to everyone in this room, for your rural folks back in Oklahoma, if their box of shotgun shells foes from $25 to $125 and their trying to feed their families I think that makes an impact. Third and finally, as was asked by the chairman, there is $7 billion dollars that has gone off of the Pittman-Robertson excise tax to support conservation. If you apply the same thing to the fishing side of the equation, the alternatives to that are anywhere from ten to twenty times more expensive, they don’t work as well. So we’ve got a serious problem here. Let’s leave it to the state fishing and wildlife agencies.
Inhofe then questioned Dale Hall about keeping conservation at the state level:
Inhofe: I look back wistfully at the days when you were at the helm, and your partnership program was just a booming success. It takes away this image that anything the government is there saying, we are doing it because the people are saying they don’t want to take care of their own property. You did such a great job. The question I have to ask you is both NAWCA and the Pitman-Robertson, where they’d need to be reauthorized in this bill. Can you real briefly explain the difference between the two and why they are both important?
Hall: Yes sir, thank you. The North American Wildlife Conservation Act was passed as the implementing tool for the North American Waterfowl Management Plan that was put together back in the 1980’s. It is a standalone program to try and help restore and protect wetlands and grasslands and other waterfowl habitat, or to follow the North American Waterfowl management plan. The Pittman-Robertson excise taxes go into separate grants to the states in order to help them carry out their operations. This provision here is simply for the interest that is gathered on those funds that are collected each year, and that interest has been designated to go into NAWCA so that it can go into making grants as well for other wetlands and waterfowl and other habitat.
Inhofe then asked Wayne Pacelle about the Humane Society's failure to fully comply with Oklahoma Attorney Gen. Scott Pruitt’s investigation on the amount HSUS gave to animal shelters as a result of its fundraising ads following the Moore, Okla. tornadoes in 2013:
Inhofe: I’ve had to change my mind twice now, since I saw you were going to be one of the witnesses. Once I’ve always thought of your group as being philosophically very liberal and on liberal causes and all of that, until I saw the ads shortly after our disaster, the tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. You had an ad, I think it’s still running, and it shows the dogs out there, the pitiful dogs, that hit me hard because that’s one of the things I do is help with abandoned dogs and that type of thing. And so I was changing my feelings a little bit until I realized that our Attorney General, Scott Pruitt, has a lawsuit against you based on the fact that the programs that we have had, you have actually extracted as a result probably of that ad. I almost contributed myself, and some $1.7 million dollars from Oklahomans and in the same time frame that money came in, only $110,000 was donated to active animal shelters and other institutions in my state of Oklahoma. So Oklahomans paid you $1.7 million dollars and got back $110,000. Is that true?
Pacelle: No, it’s not true, and I guess if that was a concern of yours, I’m glad you’ve raised it in public so I can have an opportunity to address it.
Inhofe: Stop there just a moment since you said it wasn’t true. Who is your general counsel? Is it Roger Kindler?
Pacelle: Yes, he is the general counsel.
Inhofe: Roger Kindler in the proceedings, now this is a state court proceeding, a district court, he said, Mr. Kindler stated that between 2011 and 2013 donations from within Oklahoma totaled $1,714,000, of that total only $110,288 in grants came to Oklahoma organizations. Is he a liar?
Pacelle: Yea, let me clarify. First, we did no fundraising on the Moore, Oklahoma tornado disaster.
Inhofe: When I asked the question, about the very effective ad you had implying that [the funds] are going to animal shelters and places. And that you have raised from my citizens in Oklahoma over $1.7 million dollars and the total amount that has come back for organizations within Oklahoma from you was $110,000 and you said no that wasn’t true, and I read you the following statement from your general counsel said that between 2011 and 2013 donations from within Oklahoma totaled some $1.7 million dollars. Of that total, only about $110,000 in grants to Oklahoma came back to Oklahoma organizations, now is that statement correct?
Pacelle: The statement is correct.
In Feb. 2014, Pruitt opened an investigation into HSUS regarding its fundraising advertisements in Oklahoma after a series of devastating tornadoes hit Oklahoma in 2013, including the EF5 tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma killing 24 people, injuring 337 others, and resulting an estimated $2 billion in damage. By March 2014, the Attorney General’s Office issued a consumer alert warning Oklahomans that money given to HSUS would not necessarily go to local shelters. After failing to comply fully with Pruitt’s Civil Investigative Demand (CID) for documents, HSUS filed a countersuit to Pruitt in Jan. 2015 to pre-emptively block his inquiry. HSUS reportedly only gives 1 percent of its annual budget to support local animal shelters.