Senate committee deadlocked on public land protection bills

May 4, 2022

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee deadlocked on a handful of public land-related bills yesterday, including the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act—a longstanding effort to protect around 400,000 acres in Colorado.

Sen. John Hickenlooper introduced the bill in committee, emphasizing broad local support for the legislation.

“The bill has so many supporters… not just hunters and anglers and outdoor recreationists, but farmers and ranchers, as I mentioned, community leaders, mayors, and county commissioners, Democrats, Republicans, political persuasions of all stripes,” Hickenlooper said to the committee, adding that the bill also has support from the White House.

Around 70% of Coloradans support the CORE Act, according to a 2020 Colorado College poll, while almost 90% of Coloradans support creating new national parks, national monuments, national wildlife refuges, and tribal protected areas, according to a 2022 version of the same poll.

The CORE Act passed the House last year, however it received a 10-10 vote in the committee, meaning it won’t move on to the full chamber unless Majority Leader Chuck Schumer calls it up for debate on the Senate floor.

A handful of other bills aimed at protecting public lands received tie votes in the committee as well, further highlighting the partisan gridlock that currently dominates Congress. Those include the “Pecos Watershed Protection Act,” which would protect an area in New Mexico from new mining, and the “Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act,” which would designate and expand wilderness areas in the Olympic National Forest in Washington.

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Quote of the day

”Towns like Hayden, Oak Creek, and Craig will be able to use this just transition funding to invest in projects that diversify rural economies, incentivize new energy jobs, and provide workers with supportive career service… This is the large investment in rural Colorado that our transitioning communities deserve, and I am thrilled this bill is moving forward with strong bipartisan support.”

—Rep. Dylan Roberts, a Colorado lawmaker on just transition funding poised to pass the state legislature, Colorado Newsline

Picture this

white mountain goats lie on snow
Mountain goats rest on snow patches to cool down on hot days. Climate change raises temperatures and shrinks snow patches. Researchers worry that these changes could lead to greater stress on the park’s cold-adapted goats.

(featured image: Colorado Sen. John Hickenlooper introduces the CORE Act in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, May 3, 2022.