Undoing Obama. GOP Push to Take Back Land Begins

The move to undo Obama’s over-regulation of public lands has begun and the House has recently passed several bills undoing what the GOP believes gave the federal government too much control over land use.

One of the more notable rules removed was the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) restriction on how natural gas drilling sites had to “vent and flare,” a restriction that has been called “duplicative, unnecessary, and costly” by the natural gas industry.

Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance industry group, admits that “the oil and gas industry is and should be heavily regulated, but what we saw at the end of the Obama administration was not about reasonable regulations, it was about using regulations to drive companies off of public land. The GOP is moving in a different direction. We’re looking for someone who understands that there’s a balance on public lands and that the vast majority of the mineral estate is working landscapes.”

Ethan Lane, the executive director of the Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said, “There are so many different groups that are looking for some relief after the last eight years that Congress and the administration are, kind of, drinking from the firehose at this point.”

President Trump, during his campaign, had promised to open up the country to more drilling for fossil fuels and minerals and remove the overly cumbersome regulations imposed by the Obama administration.

President Trump’s choice for head of the Interior Department, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) has attacked Obama’s present energy rule regulations and will, undoubtedly, be looking to overhaul the rules, such as the coal royalty program that Democrats put in place to create higher fees for mining.

The House has recently blocked a BLM land planning rule, which opponents have said gave too much power to the federal government. The planning rule block is awaiting a vote in the Senate and has White House support.

Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who created the bill undoing the planning rule, said on the House floor last Tuesday:

“It is hugely important for us, as we go forward here, to make sure that we have done everything we can to roll back regulations that are really killing our jobs, that are preventing people in our local communities from being able to make a living, from being able to  consistently graze, for example, on these public lands.”

The Democrats are against the undoing of Obama’s regulations and call the process an “assault on public land ownership.”

Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said, “It’s time to face the facts: congressional Republicans do not value our nation’s public lands the way everyday Americans do. The American public does not support erasing the planning rule and they certainly don’t support the broad, anti-public land agenda being pushed by Republicans.”

H/T: The Hill

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