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Western Caucus Members Central to Returning Land-Use Decisions to States and Local Entities

March 27, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul A. Gosar D.D.S. (AZ-04), Executive Vice-Chairman Rep. Scott Tipton (CO-03), Chief Defense and Interior Officer Rep. Chris Stewart (UT-02), Chief Infrastructure and Forestry Officer Rep. Bruce Westerman (AR-04), Chairman Emeritus Rep. Steve Pearce (NM-02) and Western Caucus members Rep. Liz Cheney (WY-At Large) and Rep. Pete Sessions (TX-32) released the following statements after President Donald Trump signed H.J. Res. 44 into law, legislation that nullifies the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Planning 2.0 Rule:

“The Bureau of Land Management’s Planning 2.0 was out-of-touch and pushed the mute button on the voices of state and local governments whose input on public land use and conservation efforts is invaluable and essential to good stewardship,” said Chairman Gosar. “By signing H.J. Res. 44 into law, President Trump has prevented yet another top-down mandate from taking effect and further departing from a decades-old planning process that ensures that those whose lives are impacted most by these decisions are able to be heard.”

“I am proud to see H.J. Res 44, overturning BLM Planning 2.0., signed into law today by President Trump. The rule we overturn today would have had far reaching and damaging implications on public lands and our economy in Wyoming.  Planning 2.0 would have given the federal government and radical environmental groups control over land use and resource planning in our state, at the expense of local officials and stakeholders,” Rep. Cheney said.

Congressman Tipton said, “The final BLM Planning 2.0 rule diminished the role that state and local governments, whose communities are most directly impacted, have historically played in the land management planning process. Important land management decisions should be made by the people who know the land best – not unelected Washington bureaucrats. With the signing of H.J.Res. 44, the president has delivered an important victory for the West today.”

"I applaud today’s signing of H.J. Res 44, making the critical and necessary move to roll back the BLM Planning 2.0 Rule. This rule ignored thousands of meaningful comments submitted by state and local officials. By signing this resolution of disapproval, President Trump is returning power back to the states and local communities,” said Congressman Stewart.

“The Bureau of Land Management’s Planning 2.0 Rule was an attempt to write out state and local governments from the land management planning process. The rule would have reduced the federal coordination and consistent application of federal regulations with local regulations. This top-down, Washington knows best approach has not worked, and it would only continue hamstring our ability to properly manage public lands, and create even more bad will between local governments and the federal government,” said Congressman Westerman. “I thank Congresswoman Cheney for introducing this CRA and President Trump for understanding the impact the BLM 2.0 rule would have been detrimental to local government involvement in public lands management.”

Congressman Pearce stated, "Over time, we’ve established a set of commonsense regulations that ensure local governments and local communities are prioritized in federal land use planning. The BLM’s proposed rule strips local governments of their ability to coordinate in local land use planning with the agency on behalf of the people. This ultimately weakens input from surrounding communities and local citizens who are directly impacted by the management of federal lands. The BLM Planning Rule clearly prioritizes special interests over the protections of citizens, which is why I support overturning the BLM regulation to preserve the important role that local governments play in federal land use decisions and protect the citizens of New Mexico. I applaud the actions today by President Trump to overturn this BLM regulation."

Congressman Sessions remarked, “Today we stopped a misguided rule from the Obama Administration that strips key planning decisions away from local communities and places control in the hands of bureaucrats in Washington. I was proud to be a part of the signing ceremony at the White House this afternoon and I wholeheartedly support President Trump’s efforts to roll back these Obama-era regulations and restore state and local control.”

Background:

On December 12, 2016 the Obama Administration published another overreaching “midnight regulation” in the form of the BLM’s new Resource Management Rule, commonly referred to as BLM’s Planning 2.0 Rule.

The same day the final rule was published, six Western states and a conservation district filed suit to block the new regulation stating that Planning 2.0 “will severely impair their ability to work with the BLM on future planning and management issues.”

H.J. Res 44, a joint resolution introduced by Rep. Liz Cheney (WY-At Large), utilizes the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to disapprove and nullify BLM’s Planning 2.0 Rule. The House passed H.J. Res. 44 by a bipartisan vote of 234-186 on February 7, 2017 and the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 51-48 on March 7, 2017.

The Congressional Review Act, a law enacted in 1996, requires a simple majority in both Houses as well as a signature by the president and uses expedited procedures that allow for nullification of an entire regulation through a joint resolution that cannot be filibustered. The CRA prevents the rule from continuing in effect and also prevents a substantially similar rule from being reissued. The parliamentarian has advised that all rules submitted during the 114th Congress on or after June 13, 2016, are eligible for review under the Congressional Review Act.

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 established a process that requires the BLM to develop RMPs in cooperation with state, local and tribal governments. RMPs are typically updated every seven years and determine what actions can take place on BLM land. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, “247.3 million acres of public land and administers about 700 million acres of federal subsurface mineral estate throughout the nation.”

Planning 2.0 changes the BLM’s resource management planning process, and introduces significant uncertainty by creating ambiguous standards and expanding agency discretion. This new rule will complicate effective resource planning while reducing opportunities for meaningful state and local governmental input. Planning 2.0 directs the BLM to perform large “landscape scale” planning efforts that stretch across county and state lines. This new regulation allows radical special-interest groups from other states to have the same influence as county and local officials in the planning process. Planning 2.0 takes planning decisions away from local communities and centralizes those decisions with bureaucrats in Washington D.C.

According to the American Action Forum, 4,432 new regulations have been finalized that cost a total of $1,000,000,000,000 and result in 754,208,800 hours of paperwork compliance since 2005. 120,849,512 hours of paperwork came from regulations that were finalized in 2016 alone. With regards to “midnight regulations,” those issued between Election Day and Inauguration Day, a potential cost of $6,000,000,000 worth of regulations was issued by the Obama Administration on eight rules. There were several other “midnight regulations” that have yet to be analyzed and are not included in that staggering cost estimate.