Tuesday, the Senate passed H.J. Res. 44, the House version of the Congressional Review Act disapproval resolution to overturn the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) “Planning 2.0” rule. The resolution passed the Senate by a vote of 51 to 48 and now goes to President Donald Trump for his signature.
The Obama Administration finalized the BLM Planning 2.0 Rule in December. Under the Congressional Review Act, the U.S. House and Senate have up to 60 legislative days after a new rule becomes final to approve a joint resolution of disapproval, which will fully repeal the final rule if and when the resolution becomes law.
With the President’s signature, Planning 2.0 will have no force or effect, and the BLM planning rule process will revert back to original planning rule procedures.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) was the sponsor of the Senate version of the disapproval resolution (S.J. Res. 15) for BLM’s Planning 2.0 rule. A total of 17 of her colleagues, including every Republican from a western state with BLM lands within its borders, joined her as cosponsors. Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) sponsored the House resolution, which passed that chamber with 234 votes in February.
“I’m pleased the Senate agreed to return power and decision-making authority to those who actually live near BLM lands in Alaska and other western states,” Murkowski said. “If left intact, this rule would have harmed grazing, timber, energy development, mineral production, and even recreation on federal lands. Once the president signs this resolution, western stakeholders will no longer be relegated to the sidelines, and once again be able to ensure that decisions are being made locally — not thousands of miles away at BLM headquarters.”
Murkowski explained that by design, the rules weakens the ability of state and local governments to participate in the management planning process for nearby lands, despite claims it allows improved stakeholder input.
Nearly 90 stakeholder groups support eliminating the rule, including the National Association of Counties, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Mining Assn. and the Public Lands Council (PLC). A variety of state groups, from the Alaska Oil & Gas Assn. and the California Wool Growers Assn. to the Oregon Association of Conservation Districts, also oppose the rule.
“The House and Senate have now reaffirmed the importance of protecting local governments’ voice in the planning process,” National Association of Conservation Districts president Brent Van Dyke said. “NACD is very pleased that both chambers agree the BLM should go back to the drawing board to craft a more inclusive planning policy.”
National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. and PLC have long expressed concerns about BLM’s Planning 2.0 Rule, which would represent a wholesale shift in management focus at BLM by prioritizing “social and environmental change” over ensuring multiple use of public lands and by eliminating stakeholder and local input into the planning process.
“This is Strike Two for 2.0. Streamlining is needed in the planning process, but not at the expense of input from local communities and permittees or elimination of economic analysis requirements,” said Dave Eliason, PLC president and Utah rancher. “The final rule also shifts away from BLM’s mission to protect multiple uses of public lands, and it disregards both local input and economic analysis. We look forward to the President quickly delivering the third strike by signing this resolution so that BLM may begin a new, inclusive process.”