The House of Representatives wasted no time and went straight for our public lands, a longtime goal of Republicans and the greedy billionaires they represent. They’ve been frothing at the bit to mine the uranium deposits near the Grand Canyon. To mow down our national forests. To squeeze every last dollar of profit out of our public lands. They took the first step day one:
A new rule, written by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), establishes as fact that any legislation to dispose of public lands and natural resources would cost taxpayers exactly $0. This paves the way for the new Congress to get rid of vast swaths of public lands — all at the expense of the American taxpayer.
Under Congressional Budget Office accounting rules, the House is required to account for the cost of any legislation it considers. Now, the House does not need to even estimate any financial losses from giving away public land. Bills to dispose of public land will skip several steps in the normal legislative process, coming up for a vote without any discussion of the costs and benefits. The House approved the rules change by a vote of 234 to 193 on Tuesday.
Democratic Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03) is leading the resistance on the issue, calling the rules change "outrageous":
The new provision would help House Republicans pursue their long-stated goal of giving away National Parks, Forests, Public Lands, Wildlife Refuges and other federal areas – currently owned and used by the American people – by requiring the House to pretend such giveaways have no cost.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) already significantly undervalues federal land conveyances. If enacted, the proposed rule change would ignore even this meager accounting, allowing the 115th Congress to claim giving away public land has no cost to the American people, even if CBO determines otherwise.
“The House Republican plan to give away America’s public lands for free is outrageous and absurd,” Grijalva said. “This proposed rule change would make it easier to implement this plan by allowing the Congress to give away every single piece of property we own, for free, and pretend we have lost nothing of any value. Not only is this fiscally irresponsible, but it is also a flagrant attack on places and resources valued and beloved by the American people.”
State and local governments are unlikely to have the budget or staffing resources to actually own and manage large units of federal land. If House Republicans succeed in giving public land to states or localities, they would likely be forced to sell the land to the highest bidder.
“The proposal is one more example of the Trump Republican’s plans to use federal resources to enrich wealthy developers by making it easier for them to get their hands on invaluable federal lands currently owned by, and open to, all Americans.”
Are you okay with this giveaway of our public resources to the already wealthy billionaires who want to enrich their own bank accounts? This is corporate welfare to the extreme. Fight for our lands. Let them hear us all. Click here to join the resistance using the simplest, most effective way to fight back.