Congress to consider anti-public lands legislation

Mar 20, 2024

Congress to consider anti-public lands legislation

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument. Jim Dublinski/Grand Canyon Trust

The House of Representatives is scheduled to consider several bills this week that would prevent the protection of public lands and undermine progress on oil and gas reform. These bills are out of touch with the interests of Western voters, who year after year say they support protecting public lands as national monuments and other protected areas and prioritize conservation on public lands over the development of oil and gas and other economic uses of the land. In 2024, 85 percent of Western voters said issues involving clean water, clean air, wildlife, and public lands are important in deciding whether to support an elected official.

Despite this, The House Natural Resources Federal Lands Subcommittee is scheduled to markup the Congressional Oversight of the Antiquities Act, which would eliminate the President’s authority under the Antiquities Act to create new national monuments by requiring congressional approval for national monument declaration. Another bill scheduled for markup would block the Bureau of Land Management from planning the future of public lands in Wyoming, and another aims to keep Colorado lands with low potential for oil and gas open to drilling. A fourth bill would preemptively ban free-market climate and conservation investment on private or public lands in Utah.

The House will also vote this week on a collection of bills that would undo the progress made by the Biden administration on energy and oil and gas reform. The Restoring American Energy Dominance Act, sponsored by Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert, would prevent the Bureau of Land Management from finalizing long-overdue updates to the federal oil and gas leasing program. A 2023 analysis by the Center for Western Priorities showed that 99 percent of commenters support the proposed reforms, and earlier this week over 100 Colorado elected officials sent a letter opposing Representative Boebert’s bill. Other legislation up for consideration includes a resolution broadly targeting the Biden administration’s energy and climate policies and a bill that would make it easier for polluters to contaminate water supplies with harmful chemicals.

Quick hits

Biden’s climate law has created a growing market for green tax credits

New York Times

Climate change report reveals risks to Grand Canyon


The U.S. needs wildland firefighters more than ever, but the federal government is losing them


What’s planned for Bears Ears National Monument


Under Colorado’s new water-saving law, here’s where ornamental grass will be banned starting in 2026

Denver Post

How large fires are altering the face of California’s Mojave Desert

Los Angeles Times

Where the wild things went during the pandemic

New York Times

Opinion: Oil and gas lease policy should put Colorado taxpayers first

Colorado Newsline

Quote of the day

We’re basically driving in the dark to a destination that we don’t know anything about because of climate change and the changing fire regime.”

—Debra Hughson, superintendent at Mojave National Preserve, Los Angeles Times

Picture This

meadow with purple flowers


Happy first day of spring! 🌼🌷

We’re welcoming warmer temperatures, new life, and beautiful splashes of color this season. It’s the perfect time to venture outdoors and explore your public lands. You could find yourself enveloped in breathtaking views along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail at Lemhi Pass in Idaho!

📸 The sun peaks over the mountains and fields covered in flowers at Lemhi Pass along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, BLM Idaho; Bob Wick.


Featured photo: Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument. Jim Dublinski/Grand Canyon Trust