Republicans Take Aim at Public Lands

At the top of a Congressional to-do list: selling off public lands.

Republicans Take Aim at Public Lands

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump demonstrated little interest in the Republican agenda of transferring control of federal public lands to the states and opening them up for private development. But over the last four weeks, enemies of public lands in Congress have forged ahead, perhaps trusting that the new administration's coziness with the oil, gas, and mining industries will outweigh any commitment to protecting public access and control.

The first blow was tucked into an otherwise mundane procedural bill establishing rules for the 115th Congress, which passed as one of the first orders of business back in early January. A new rule in the bill allows the 115th Congress to sell off a piece of federal public land without accounting for its value to U.S. taxpayers. Yosemite? Yellowstone? Zion? For this Congress, selling off any piece of our iconic public lands will no longer be considered to "decrease revenues"--in other words, they can act like there's no cost to the American people.

Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah, apparently eager to take advantage of these obliterated standards, lost no time before introducing H.R. 621, directing the Secretary of the Interior to sell off 3.3 million acres of public lands in western states. He followed up with H.R. 622, an effort to strip agencies such as the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife, and the Park Service of law enforcement authority on the public lands they're responsible for managing.

Keep reading...Show less
© 2023 The Progressive