The House passed a new provision Tuesday that would change the cost calculation of transferring federal land, making it easier to give state and local regulators more control.
The official GOP platform advocates for state control of federal public lands and Tuesday’s vote may signify an initial move in how the GOP plans to manage public lands in a Trump Administration.
While Trump has expressed interest in reducing regulations to encourage resource development – including fossil fuels – on large areas of public land nationwide, he has voiced opposition to transferring lands to state control and his nominee for Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, is also opposed.
According to the Washington Post, “Many Democrats argue that these lands should be managed on behalf of all Americans, not just those living nearby, and warn that cash-strapped state and local officials might sell these parcels to developers.”
Randi Spivak, public lands director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said she’s appalled that politicians like Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) are willing to hand over millions of acres of public lands so they can be exploited for private gain, including oil and gas drilling, logging and development.
“Public lands are worth far more than any short-term profits that these corporations will get,” he said. “They provide everyday people with fresh drinking water, cleaner air and havens for recreational adventures and wildlife that live nowhere else,” Spivak said. “Here’s a chance for President-elect Trump to follow through on his promise not to give away America’s public lands to the highest bidder.”
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