MSNBC: Wildlands Policy Under Fire
A battle over the West was waged Tuesday in Congress, where House Republicans and 2 Republican governors accused the Obama administration of a land grab by creating “wild land” designations on federal tracts that could also hold lots of oil, gas and/or minerals.
The GOP officials said the policy will circumvent Congress’s authority and could be used to declare a vast swath of public land off-limits to oil-and-gas drilling.
Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., said the policy threatens the economy in rural Western states and accused the Obama administration of waging a “war on the West.”
Great Falls Tribune: Rehberg’s land sovereignty bill
Rehberg said he vividly remembers a decade ago how President Bill Clinton, on his way out of the White House, designated as national monuments several tracts in the Western states, including the Upper Missouri River Breaks in Montana.
“We don’t want this to happen again,” Rehberg said Tuesday. Interior officials “are suggesting: ‘Don’t worry. It’ll (depend on) public input.’ … No. We don’t believe them. We don’t trust them.”
Plus, Phillips Co Commissioner Lesley Robinson testified before the US House on the new Wild Lands designation:
This leads to the loss of families in our community. If even one ranch or gas company family leaves the county due to increased restrictions it will have a noticeable negative impact to our economy due to loss of income and fewer volunteers. Our ambulance, fire departments and several other local services are run by volunteers,” said Lesley Robinson, Philips County Commissioner (Montana).
“This Secretarial Order will disproportionately impact rural communities, who depend on public lands for their livelihoods. These communities have already been hit hard by onerous existing federal restrictions and by the current economic crisis. They suffer from some of the highest unemployment rates in the country. The ‘Wild Lands’ order threatens to inflict further economic pain. This is just one more example of the onslaught of harmful actions that the Obama Administration is imposing on rural America,” said Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04).
The Montana Land Sovereignty Act would require the President to get Congressional approval before designating monuments in Montana.
Congress gave Wyoming this right back in 1950 and Rehberg says it’s time that Montana was treated the same.
Rehberg introduced a similar bill back in March of 2010, but it died in committee.
Of course, that was before the GOP took control of the US House. Video of KRTV’s report below: