Senate votes to take public out of public land planning

(March 7, 2017) Washington D.C. The Senate voted Tuesday to use the Congressional Review Act to jettison a widely supported rule that would have increased public participation and transparency in the land planning process.

BLM Planning 2.0 was the result of a multi-year public process, a far cry from what some have deemed as midnight rulemaking.

Were disappointed that our elected officials voted to kill a proposal that created a more transparent, collaborative and efficient process for developing land use planning decisions, said Corey Fisher, senior policy director for Trout Unlimiteds Sportsmens Conservation Project. The use of the Congressional Review Act was heavy handed and unnecessary. Putting the public back in public land management just became a whole lot more difficult.

Planning 2.0 provided the public with three additional opportunities to be involved in the land management planning process, while also ensuring that important fish and wildlife habitats are identified early in the planning process and given due consideration in management decisions. Additionally, Planning 2.0 retained the role of state, local and tribal cooperating agencies, as required by the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act. Significant changes were made to the final planning rule to address concerns that the rule diminished the role of state and local governments.

With todays vote, the BLM will revert back to the outdated 1983 planning rules. The Congressional Review Act prevents new rules from being developed that are “substantially the same.”

“In other words, we’ll be stuck with an ineffective, outdated process for developing public land management plans and sportsmen and women will have less opportunity to be meaningfully engaged in decisions affecting our public lands. Fisher said. We hope that under the leadership of Secretary Zinke, the BLM will be able to take measures that help to give the public more and earlier opportunities to have a say in how our lands are managed.”