Thursday, February 16, 2017

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House Passes Resolution to Halt BLM Planning Rule

Washington—The House on Tuesday approved a Farm Bureau-supported resolution (H.J. Res. 44) to stop an Obama administration rule that would weaken the influence of local and regional officials on Bureau of Land Management decisions.

Dubbed “Planning 2.0,” the rule incorporates numerous Obama-era presidential and secretarial orders along with internal agency guidance and policy documents.

“The rule demonstrated a clear overreach by the BLM, in spite of the agency’s claim that the ‘primary goal of the proposed rulemaking process is to improve the agency’s ability to respond to environmental, economic and social changes in a timely manner,’” the American Farm Bureau Federation and 12 Western state Farm Bureaus wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

According to the groups, under the pretext of “climate change” and “landscape-scale” management, the rule will lock local and state officials out of BLM’s decision-making process, ultimately allowing “implementation of unilateral management schemes, mitigation, adaptive management and other internal agency pronouncements.”

In addition, they wrote, Planning 2.0 flies in the face of the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976, in which Congress recognized the importance of the public domain to the future of Western states. Through defined multiple-use principles, Congress mandated that these public lands be used to meet the country’s need for domestic sources of food, fiber, energy, timber and more.

FLPMA also recognizes state and local governments as cooperative agencies.

However, under Planning 2.0, BLM must work with cooperating agencies only “as feasible and appropriate given their interests, scope of expertise and the constraints of their resources.” (Sec. 1610.3-1)

“This language clearly devalues local input. In addition, it subjects local recommendations to bureaucratic scrutiny and bias, not congressional intent,” the Farm Bureaus wrote.

The groups also took issue with how Planning 2.0 was put in place.

“BLM did not fully evaluate the impacts on consumers, public lands-dependent ranching families, energy, mining, recreation and rural communities across the American West. Additionally, new definitions and requirements created by the rule exceed statutory authorities and multiple-use mandates established by FLPMA and the National Environmental Policy Act,” they noted.

A similar resolution has been introduced in the Senate.

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