After protests, Republicans pull bill that would privatize public lands

Unfortunately we can’t take a lot of time to celebrate the victory, as Rep. Chaffetz has other plans for legislation that affects public lands.

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Photo credit: Bureau of Land Management/Flickr

Last week it was announced that a new bill introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz would propose selling 3.3 million acres of federal land in 10 different states. Thousands of people responded, with protests in several states.

In Montana, over 1,000 public lands supporters joined Gov. Steve Bullock to show their opposition to the bill. Gov. Bullock stated, “Every one of us owns these public lands,” Bullock told the crowd. “And the beauty is, we don’t need permission to go on them, do we? These lands are our heritage. These lands are our birthright.” In New Mexico hundreds more rallied to protest the bill.

It seems that, for now, the public outcry has worked. Rep. Chaffetz announced he is withdrawing HR 621:

Unfortunately we can’t take a lot of time to celebrate the victory, as Chaffetz has other plans for legislation that affects public lands.

A second bill that was introduced by Chaffetz would abolish all law enforcement rights of the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service officials on public lands and hand over powers to local sheriffs. If this sounds familiar, it is. This was one of the main demands of the armed militia that occupied the Malheaur National Wildlife Refuge last year and has been called for by the Bundy family specifically for years.

Chaffetz has previously introduced these legislations in the last Congress and has also cosponsored legislation to undermine the Antiquities Act and seize public lands.

Republicans are on a path that could effectively destroy our public lands. At the beginning of the year the House of Representatives made it a lot easier to sell off public lands, such as national parks and national forests, when they established a new rule that said any legislation to dispose of public lands and natural resources would cost taxpayers $0. This means that the House does not need to estimate financial loses from giving away public land, allowing sponsored bills to skip several steps in the legislative process, such as the discussion of the costs and benefits of selling the land.

The rule passed with a vote of 234 to 193 and is effective immediately.

As Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) stated, “This proposed rule change would make it easier to implement this plan by allowing the Congress to give away every single piece of property we own, for free, and pretend we have lost nothing of any value. Not only is this fiscally irresponsible, but it is also a flagrant attack on places and resources valued and beloved by the American people.”

Tell Congress not to sell our wilderness to the highest bidder:

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Alexandra Jacobo is a dedicated progressive writer, activist, and mother with a deep-rooted passion for social justice and political engagement. Her journey into political activism began in 2011 at Zuccotti Park, where she supported the Occupy movement by distributing blankets to occupiers, marking the start of her earnest commitment to progressive causes. Driven by a desire to educate and inspire, Alexandra focuses her writing on a range of progressive issues, aiming to foster positive change both domestically and internationally. Her work is characterized by a strong commitment to community empowerment and a belief in the power of informed public action. As a mother, Alexandra brings a unique and personal perspective to her activism, understanding the importance of shaping a better world for future generations. Her writing not only highlights the challenges we face but also champions the potential for collective action to create a more equitable and sustainable world.

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