What started as one important conservation news story we wanted to share morphed into a slew of bad news emanating from the horror show that is our federal government as the day dragged on. Rather than consume the entire site with those stories, we figured we would just roll it into one massive pile of bad news…
Republicans Move to Sell off 3.3 Million Acres of National Land
Now that Republicans have quietly drawn a path to give away much of Americans’ public land, US representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah has introduced what the Wilderness Society is calling “step two” in the GOP’s plan to offload federal property.
The new piece of legislation would direct the interior secretary to immediately sell off an area of public land the size of Connecticut. In a press release for House Bill 621, Chaffetz claimed that the 3.3m acres of national land, maintained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), served “no purpose for taxpayers”. But many in the 10 states that would lose federal land in the bill disagree, and public land rallies in opposition are bringing together sportsmen and conservationists across the west.
The 10 states affected are Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. Residents can see how much acreage is earmarked for “disposal” in their counties by checking a PDF on Chaffetz’s website.
And here’s the kicker, these “land sales” would likely not generate any revenue for the federal government.
LINK (via: The Guardian)
House Moves to Encourage Drilling in National Parks
This week, Congressman Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) introduced H.J. Res. 46, which seeks to repeal updates to the National Park Service’s “9B” rules. The rules require detailed planning and set safety standards for oil and gas drilling inside the more than 40 national parks that have “split estate” ownership, where the federal government owns the surface but not the subsurface mineral rights. The resolution is just the latest in a series of moves by federal lawmakers to weaken environmental protections for national parks under the Congressional Review Act (CRA).
There are more than 40 national parks where the federal government does not own the mineral rights below the surface, including Cuyahoga Valley NP in Ohio, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. If Congress repeals these rules, drilling could occur in national parks with little more than bare-minimum state regulations. The Park Service will have essentially no authority over oil and gas development proposed inside national parks. Companies would be able to build roads through national parks to begin drilling, such as the 11-mile road through the heart of Big Cypress National Preserve built to reach an oil and gas lease. And drilling companies would not even be required to inform parks or park visitors about when or how drilling operations would occur.
LINK (via: National Parks Conservation Alliance)
Lawmaker to Propose Abolishing EPA
We may not need to worry about what a Scott Pruitt led EPA would look like if a piece of legislation drafted by Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican Congressman from Florida, is enacted into law. Before you breathe a deep sigh of relief, you should know that we would be avoiding that scenario only because Gaetz’s legislation would completely abolish the Environmental Protection Agency by December 31, 2018. As Gaetz said, “It is time to take back our legislative power from the EPA and abolish it permanently.” However, he has yet to specify which federal authority would be responsible for enforcing the laws that currently fall within the EPA’s jurisdiction, or if the laws would also be repealed.
LINK (via: The Hill)