The vote sets land managers, Western communities back decades

DENVER—Following a vote last month by the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate today used the Congressional Review Act to undermine the Bureau of Land Management rule known as Planning 2.0. Rescinding Planning 2.0 means that Western communities will be stuck with 1980s-era planning rules that are outdated, inefficient, and fail to account for local input, often becoming held up by years of expensive litigation.

The Center for Western Priorities issued the following statement from Deputy Director Greg Zimmerman:

“At the urging of oil and gas lobbyists, politicians in Washington have voted to undermine a policy whose central goal is increasing public participation in public lands management. Led by key Western Senators, including Cory Gardner and Dean Heller, Congress passed a bill that guts long-overdue reforms to how land managers balance development and protections on public lands.

Public lands across the West will now be guided by antiquated planning rules that frequently shut out public participation.”

The Planning 2.0 reforms found support in all corners of the West, including from the Lewis & Clark County Commission in Montana and the Park County Commission in Colorado, who recognized that early public input from communities helps to avoid conflicts that have historically bogged down planning.

Here are two key ways Planning 2.0 improved the BLM’s planning process:

  • Provided opportunities for stakeholders to engage earlier in the process to identify potential conflicts up front—something that prevents lengthy and expensive legal delays later on;

  • Allowed planning across administrative boundaries. Since wildlife and natural resources don’t adhere to arbitrary lines on a map, neither should planning professionals who are managing game species for hunting, water resources for downstream communities, or lease applications for resource extraction.

Planning rules are absolutely essential to land management agencies, guiding the creation of planning documents that provide the foundation for virtually each land management decision made on America’s public lands. We can and should have debates about the specifics of planning on our 245 million acres of public lands managed by the BLM.

Using the Congressional Review Act—an incredibly blunt instrument—to dismantle Planning 2.0 is nothing short of bad government. The politicians who voted to undermine Planning 2.0 may be permanently sticking Western communities with an ineffective, outdated planning rule. The following Western elected officials voted to rescind Planning 2.0:

Colorado

Senator Cory Gardner | Representative Scott Tipton | Representative Mike Coffman | Representative Doug Lamborn | Representative Ken Buck

Montana

Senator Steve Daines

Nevada

Senator Dean Heller | Representative Mark Amodei

For more information, visit westernpriorities.org. To speak with an expert on public lands, contact Greg Zimmerman at 720-279-8038 or greg@westernpriorities.org.

Written by on Tuesday, March 7th, 2017