See? It Does Work!
This week, public land rally’s were held in Helena, MT and Santa Fe, NM opposing the transfer of Federally owned and managed lands to states. Above you can listen to MT Governor Steve Public rally the troops and reference the legislation mentioned below. Over a thousand rowdy outdoorsmen and women turned out in Helena, and the rally in Santa Fe was reported in the “hundreds”. Both received mucho attention in the press, and were supported by a wide variety of sportsmen, conservation and outdoor industry groups.
Proponents of keeping these lands public believe that while the “transfer of management decisions” is what’s being sold, underlying all of the various state and federal proposals is a larger plan to eventually transfer many large parcels of western land to private interests. Interests like the oil and gas industry. I believe that.
Coincidentally – or miraculously? – on Wednesday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) announced he would be withdrawing HR 621, a bill directing the Interior Sec. to sell off 3.3 Million acres of public (BLM) lands. According to reports his office and social media accounts were flooded with angry messages from sportsmen and women who oppose the transfer of the public lands they recreate on. He has presented this bill in past years, but it certainly would have been vetoed by President Obama. This amounts to a total about face for Chaffetz, though you can expect him to be sponsoring and backing similar proposals in the future.
So keep pounding on the bad guys via email and social media. It works. But this isn’t the end, you can expect more to come from the GOP.
ZINKE and the RULES PACKAGE
If you’re wondering what all of the uproar was over the rules package that MT Rep. (and Interior Secretary nominee) Ryan Zinke voted for 2 weeks ago, it directly relates to this type of proposal. In past legislative sessions, Rep. Chaffetz would have had to show that selling these lands would generate more funds for the US taxpayer than the cost of selling them. You know, end up in the “plus” column in the books. Thanks to some sneaky rules changes by enemy of the planet Rob Bishop (R-UT) that is no longer the case. Inserted into the larger rules package that was voted on, a provision that Congress can sell off publicly owned assets without worrying about how they look on the bottom line of the Federal budget. Rep. Zinke voted in favor of this rule change. While he claims to oppose public lands transfer, his only vote this year says otherwise. Let him know you are against federal land transfer. I will bet that many members of congress – including Zinke – also encouraged Chaffetz to pull HR 621 so they don’t have to show their cards – or less likely – cross party lines.