HJ Res 44 Pushed the Bureau of Land Management out of the 21st Century

HJ Res 44 Pushed the Bureau of Land Management out of the 21st Century

As we all know our nation is an amalgamation of separate states (and territories) and one whole entity – our federal lands dwell within specific geographic states (and territories) yet they have been decreed to belong to the whole entity. This seemingly non-controversial notion is truly under attack as evidenced by the new law HJ Res 44 (https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-joint-resolution/44/text).

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oversees and manages federal lands that are designated to be for multiple uses – meaning the land is not set solely aside for the preservation/conservation of Nature, the land is to be enjoyed and used by Americans, for example for grazing livestock or mineral extraction (https://www.blm.gov/about/our-mission). The BLM determined that it needed to address two of its most consistent criticisms, namely being too slow and too unresponsive to the public (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/12/12/2016-28724/resource-management-planning; https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-12-12/pdf/2016-28724.pdf). In addition it decided that the manner in which it had been doing its management was outdated – before 2016 the last time the regulations were amended had been 30 years prior – and thus needed to be modernized (sources: same as above). Thus the BLM under the Obama administration drafted a new Federal Regulation (89580) that addressed these issues. In short, this new regulation shifted the BLM’s strategy to that of a landscape management approach (to, “better respond to large-scale challenges such reducing the risk of wildfire, controlling weeds and insect outbreaks, and providing for energy development on the public lands” https://www.blm.gov/about/how-we-manage – in more nitty gritty terms this means that issues cannot be determined by each individual field office, county or state. If you want to address an issue that effects a whole region (such as the massive tree die off in the West due to an invasive beetle species, one needs to manage the problem across a region i.e. across municipalities, counties and states) and brought more emphasis onto the federal BLM headquarters while still retaining input from local offices, Tribes and stakeholders (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/12/12/2016-28724/resource-management-planning). The new regulation, “ensures that the process going forward will maximize transparency and public involvement, honor the partnership with other governmental entities, be more efficient, based on best available information, and adaptable to changing conditions (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/12/12/2016-28724/resource-management-planning)”.

Yet somehow the BLM finds a way to become a lightening rod… and this regulation was regarded as anti-states’ rights and pro bureaucracy creation (http://www.ebony.com/news-views/trump-executive-orders-obama#axzz4exFRItIx). Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) author of the bill stated, ““I am proud to see H.J. Res 44, overturning BLM Planning 2.0. [this was the unofficial name given to the new (now overturned) regulation], signed into law today by President Trump. The rule we overturn today would have had far reaching and damaging implications on public lands and our economy in Wyoming. Planning 2.0 would have given the federal government and radical environmental groups control over land use and resource planning in our state, at the expense of local officials and stakeholders” (http://fox13now.com/2017/03/27/trump-signs-bill-to-rollback-regulations-on-blms-planning-2-0/). Another supportive legislator, Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) echoed these sentiments:  “If allowed to go into effect, this rule would shift decision-making authority away from local BLM officials to Washington — making coordination between community leaders and federal officials near impossible. This is bad for agriculture, it’s certainly bad for the energy industry, and it’s bad for hiking and the multiple recreational uses on federal land” (https://riponadvance.com/stories/trump-signs-repeal-blm-planning-2-0-regulation-congressional-review-act/).

Once again Hunter voted yes while Harris and Feinstein voted no.