April 19, 2024 |

Photo – Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 cover – Courtesy Bureau of Land Management website

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon expressed frustration on Thursday about the final Bureau of Land Management Public Lands Rule released earlier in the day.

Under the rule, the BLM will give equal footing to protection and restoration with grazing, energy development and other long-standing uses on the 245 million acres of American land the agency controls.

The BLM has triggered alarm bells with the rule by responding to comments that said it was reaching beyond its authority to consider conservation as one of the uses authorized under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, saying agency officials don’t believe the rule would be vulnerable to legal challenges under the “major questions doctrine” recently given new life the United States Supreme Court.

In a 6-3 decision in 2022, the High Court ruled that the BLM does not have clear direction from Congress to require power plants to shift from coal to cleaner energy resources.

The Obama-era rule mandated “generation shifting” at power plants. The so-called Clean Power Plan never went into effect because of the ruling, which found that no such authorization exists in the Clean Air Act.

The BLM is facing stiff pushback from yesterday’s ruling.

Criticism came quickly from western lawmakers. Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said, “This rule subverts the multiple-use requirement under the Federal Land Policy Management Act and will block access to federal lands.”

Barrasso said he will introduce legislation to block federal implementation of the rule by the Biden Administration.

Governor Mark Gordon said in a statement after the rule was announced, “The Biden Administration’s contorted interpretation of multiple use under the Federal Land Policy Management Act and the BLM’s authorities will completely upend economies across the West – including grazing, recreation, and energy.” 

The governor said the BLM was being “disingenuous.” The White House, Governor Gordon writes, dressed up its earlier incarnation of the “Conservation and Landscape Health Rule” in an effort, quote, “to force the 30 x 30 initiative down our throats.”

30 x 30 is a leftist global initiative for governments to designate 30% of Earth’s land and ocean area as protected areas by 2030.

The BLM’s Conservation and Landscape Health draft rule was released on April 3, 2023, and opened for a public comment period. Governor Gordon testified on the draft rule e before the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources in Washington, D.C.

In his letter to Tracy Stone-Manning, the Director of the BLM, Governor Gordon stated that the rule “seemed harsh, prompted by politics rather than experience, and from inside the beltway rather than from the land it was intended to affect. The governor added that because of its shortcomings, the rule should be rescinded entirely.

Meanwhile, Senator Barrasso said in a statement Thursday, “With this rule, President Biden is allowing federal bureaucrats to destroy our way of life.”

While conservation groups applauded the rule yesterday, industry groups are expected to challenge it in court.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Public Lands Council said the rule “runs counter to the (federal) agency’s multiple use mandate.”

The BLM disagrees with its critics, saying that “multiple use and sustained yield embrace conservation use as an integral component of the BLM’s stewardship of the public lands.”

Governor Gordon said the rule fails to address Wyoming’s comments and the role of states in conservation efforts.

Next stop, for the BLM’s new rule, is in the federal courts where states will be looking to stop it.

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