House GOP Rules Change Could Threaten Public Land
January 6, 2017
Editorial Staff (235 articles)
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House GOP Rules Change Could Threaten Public Land

New rules make it easier to sell off federal land

House Republicans on Tuesday changed the way Congress calculates the cost of transferring federal lands to the states and other entities.

It’s a move that will make it easier for members of the new Congress to cede federal control of public lands, the Washington Post reports.

Under current Congressional Budget Office accounting rules, any transfer of federal land that generates revenue for the U.S. Treasury — whether through energy extraction, logging, grazing or other activities — has a cost.

If lawmakers wanted to give such land to a state, local government or tribe, they would have to account for that loss in expected cash flow.

Language authored by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) in a new rules package would overturn that requirement. It states any such transfers “shall not be considered as providing new budget authority, decreasing revenues, increasing mandatory spending, or increasing outlays,” the Post reports.

Alan Rowsome, senior government relations director for The Wilderness Society, said in a statement, “Right out of the gate, Congressional Republicans are declaring open season on federal lands… This is not Theodore Roosevelt-style governing, this move paves the way for a wholesale giveaway of our American hunting, fishing and camping lands that belong to us all.”

Eric Stanochek photo

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