BLM planning 2.0 proposed rule causes concerns

Public Lands Council said process radically alters federal land management planning.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a final version of BLM planning 2.0. BLM said it developed the rule through years of work with state and local governments, cooperators, communities, stakeholders and the public at large.

The rule updates regulations that are more than 30 years old, provides additional and more robust opportunities for input into the agency’s planning process and ensures that science is a cornerstone of BLM’s planning work. BLM launched this effort after hearing from stakeholders that the current planning process is too slow and cumbersome.

BLM manages 10% of the nation’s land and 30% of its subsurface minerals. Federal law requires BLM to develop land use plans, which are essential tools for balancing the many competing uses and values of the nation’s public lands.

“Under the current system, it takes an average of eight years for the BLM to finish a land use plan. Too often, by the time we’ve completed a plan, community priorities have evolved and conditions on the ground have changed as well,” BLM director Neil Kornze said. “This update to our planning rule allows for a more streamlined process that also increases collaboration and transparency.”

However, stakeholders are not pleased.

Ethan Lane, executive director of the Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. federal lands, said this process radically alters federal land management planning and moves the agency away from its mandate to manage for multiple use on federal lands.

“We are continuing to review how much, if any, our input has been incorporated into the final plan, but regardless, we object to the Administration moving forward in the final days of the President’s term with this hastily released regulation -- particularly with one that will have such dramatic economic impact on western states,” Lane said.

Of the final rule, Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R., Ariz.), chairman-elect of the Congressional Western Caucus, said, “BLM 2.0 is a bureaucratic nightmare that will kill jobs and create unnecessary permitting delays.”

Gosar noted that Americans continue to be subjugated to another erroneous rule and more government red tape that strips away the authority and expertise of local land managers. “This fundamentally flawed regulation will also impose costly and duplicative mandates on job creators and local communities. Local planning decisions should be made by the experts on the ground at the local level, not Washington bureaucrats. The Congressional Western Caucus will work with the Trump Administration, Republican leadership and important industry groups like the Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. to scrap misguided directives imposed by Obama’s political hacks during their waning days.”

Lane emphasized that "BLM must scrap BLM 2.0 and go back to the drawing board, this time with real input from stakeholders across the West."

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