Two significant attacks on public lands in a matter of days underscore how public lands are being targeted by our partisan Congress. First, on January 3, 2017 the U.S. House of Representatives adopted a rule that paves the way for efforts to convey public lands to the states for resource extraction and potential privatization. At the beginning of each two-year congressional session, the House adopts a package of rules governing how legislation will be considered and debated that session. Among other things, the rules dictate how legislation is considered from a fiscal point of view. In the case of federal land transfers, the Congressional Budget Office has long estimated the cost of such conveyances by estimating the loss of revenue generated from transferred public lands. As such, before a bill approving the transfer of public lands could be adopted, budget cuts would have to be made in other federal programs equal to the value of that land. But the new rule adopted by the House eliminates that budgetary barrier to land transfer bills. Under the new rule, no lost revenue would have to be considered, a budgetary sleight–of-hand that pretends that giving away public lands will not adversely affect taxpayers and the federal budget. Rep. Scott Tipton, despite earlier statements that he opposes transferring public lands to the states, voted in favor of the rule, opening the door to the wholesale transfer of public lands. Please contact Rep. Tipton’s office (202-225-4761) and let him know that you value your public lands and strongly believe they should remain public.
Second, on January 5, 2017 Senator Murkowski, R-Alaska, with 25 co-sponsors, introduced the Improved National Monument Designation Process Act, a bill that would gut the Antiquities Act. Since 1906 the Antiquities Act has granted the President the authority to designate national monuments, protecting precious, irreplaceable resources for the American people. Senator Murkowski’s legislation would require all future national monuments to receive congressional approval, state legislative approval, and the approval of the Governor before being designated. Fortunately, neither Senators Bennet nor Gardner is an original co-sponsor, and it important to thank them for their ongoing support of the Antiquities Act!Please call the offices of Senator Bennet (202-224-5852) and Senator Gardner (202-224-5941) today and thank them for supporting the Antiquities Act.