A Full Front Retreat on Federal Land Mismanagement

Monday, December 08, 2014 4:34 PM

Some Context on the Defense Bill Riders: Public Lands Losses Far Outweigh Any Wins

Full Article at: http://bit.ly/1zaaQFp

Bottom Line: This public lands package attached as a rider to an unrelated National Defense Authorization Act will mean more public lands grazing, mining, oil and gas development and logging…and less public input, less protection for wildlife species and less science-based management overall.

There are a total of 6,397,000 unprotected Wilderness-eligible roadless acres in Montana. This public lands rider would protect only 67,000 acres in Montana as Wilderness. That means that this “Historic” bill would amount to protecting just 1% of the total Wilderness-eligible roadless acres in Montana as Wilderness.

Nationally, the number of Wilderness acres protected in this bill is even more pitiful. This ‘historic’ 449 page-long Public Lands rider attached to the National Defense Authorization Act would protect a whopping 0.2% of all remaining Wilderness-eligible roadless acres in the United States. Nothing says “Happy 50th Birthday Wilderness Act” than boldly protecting 0.2% of what remains, right?

But that’s not really even the bad parts of the 449 page long rider package. Read this full article to see what else is being undermined and given away: http://bit.ly/1zaaQFp

For example, as the MEIC points out in this blog post (http://bit.ly/1BkweKv), Senator Tester and Rep Daines’ last minute change to the RMFHA now includes the release Wilderness Study Areas in eastern Montana, 350 to 500 miles away from the RMF.

Alarmingly, there were ZERO PUBLIC MEETINGS about the release of these Wilderness Study Areas in Montana and Daines and Tester offered the public zero notice or opportunity to comment about their intent to release these public lands Wilderness Study Areas from their current protection. And clearly, Wilderness Study Areas 350 and 500 miles away from the Rocky Mountain Front have very little to do with a Rocky Mountain Front bill, other than Sen Tester and Rep Daines secretively used it as means to release eastern Montana Wilderness Study Areas for more development.

Also, according to MEIC, part of the public lands rider means that Great Northern Properties gets 112 million tons of coal adjacent to the Signal Peak mine.

MEIC has stated that, for reference, 112 million tons of coal is approximately 3 years worth of coal production by every single coal mine in Montana, and would result in an extra 224 million tons of carbon pollution. So Tester and Daines have just given away 3 years worth of ALL coal mining in Montana with one fell swoop and no public meetings, public notice or opportunity for the public to provide input! How can anyone – left, right, middle – be ok with this?

So honestly, the end result of this supposed “historic” day for Wilderness in Montana may be a complete wash.

Or how about the so-called “Grazing Improvement Act,” which was a rider in the bill? This is a complete roll back of environmental laws and public input regrading public lands grazing permit renewals. Under this rider in the package, public lands grazing permits must be renewed regardless of a NEPA analysis, public land health conditions and regardless of the impact on wildlife, including endangered species. Essentially this rider in the bill ensures the listing of the Great Sage Grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

Oh, and did you hear that under this bill Tester and Daines would give 2,400 acres of the Tonto Nation Forest in Arizona – ancestral homeland of the Apache Tribe – to a foreign mining company and allow them to put in a huge copper mine on these sacred lands. Ironically, the mining corporation is Rio Tinto, a foreign corporation that also happens to co-own a uranium mine with the Iranian government!! Oh, and the mining company says the copper will mined in the U.S. but processed in China. Funny that this is in a rider to the National Defense Bill, eh?

I’d encourage Montanans, and all Americans, to look at the details and decide for yourself if this is how to preserve and protect America’s public lands legacy. Please do not simply take sound bites from politicians – or people who have a $$ conflict of interest, whether industry or million dollar conservation groups – as the only truth regarding what’s actually a 449 pages worth of public lands riders and pork-barrel projects!

Find out more information here: http://bit.ly/1zaaQFp

Thanks for caring about America’s public lands and Wilderness legacy.

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