Statement on Senate public lands hearing

Jul 12, 2023

DENVER—A Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee held a hearing today on a slate of bills that would affect public lands and energy across the West. The bills under consideration include protections for the Dolores River, the Thompson Divide, and additional areas of Colorado, Oregon’s Owyhee Canyonlands, and the Olympic National Forest in Washington. The subcommittee also heard testimony on a bill that would discourage speculative leasing of public lands that are unlikely to ever produce oil and gas.

The Center for Western Priorities released the following statement from Executive Director Jennifer Rokala:

“It’s great to see so many conservation bills moving in the Senate. Western voters consistently say they want their elected officials to protect the most vulnerable landscapes, and these bills would do just that. Chairman Manchin and Majority Leader Schumer should quickly advance these bills out of committee and to a floor vote.”

“At the same time, any conservation bill faces an uphill battle in the House, where the relevant committee is spending its time on bills that would undermine land restoration and conservation efforts across the West. While we’re always hopeful for an about-face, history shows us that there are millions of acres of public lands that are languishing in Congress, in need of protection but mired in partisan gridlock.

“If Congress isn’t going to do its job for the West, President Biden should be ready to step up and use the Antiquities Act to protect American landscapes, as he’s already done at Camp Hale, Avi Kwa Ame, and Castner Range. Westerners want to see public lands protected, and they don’t care whether it’s Congress or the president doing the job.”

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Featured image: Owyhee River, BLM Oregon