Matthew and I have been having an interesting discussion here about privatizing public lands and the role of various political actors, which I thought I would move to a separate post. It all started as “what’s with Wyoming and Utah ” and originally started with a comment by Jon. I appreciate Matthew’s look at history and I bet there are historic reasons that Utah is the way it is, just like any other state.
First I would like to separate the idea of privatization as any private entity leasing federal land- here is an example in the Summit Daily News by a writer named Jonathan Thompson, a contributing editor to the High Country News.
Zinke has repeatedly expressed his opposition to wholesale federal land transfers, but his enthusiasm for leasing adds up to the same thing. The interior secretary is running a de facto privatization scheme.
(my bold) It may seem ironic that the Summit Daily News ran this, given that the largest economic engines in Summit County are ski areas located on leased Forest Service land. Oh well. I think it is intentional, and not very accurate, to conflate selling federal land to “letting people do things on federal land and getting money for it.”
If we talk about “real” privatization, there have been various efforts by Congressfolk to that have been characterized by some as privatization. Not having looked into those bills I don’t know the details.
I don’t pay a lot of attention because there isn’t enough support to do it, so it is just political theater. (I’d be interested in posts as to what the bills contain .. I could be wrong).
It turns out that our friends at the Center for Biological Diversity actually have a most wanted list of Congressfolk. Here’s their 2017 report. Of course it goes without saying that I don’t agree with them. My point is that many western states are represented -even in the CBD version of who are the “bad guys.” If you look at the second list, you’ll even see easterners.
For this report we identify the top 15 members of Congress who have emerged as enemies of public lands.
These federal lawmakers were selected because they:
• Authored and/or cosponsored the largest number of “anti-public lands” bills between 2011 and 2016;
• Put the narrow interests of extractive industries ahead of native wildlife, habitat protection, clean water, clean air and opposing rules or laws that limit the ability of extractive interests to dictate and dominate use of public lands.
The 15 Public Lands Enemies in rank order are:
1. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)
2. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah, 1st District)
3. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
4. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz., 4th District)
5. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)
6. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah, 2nd District)
7. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska, At Large)
8. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)
9. Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho, 1st District)
10. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah, 3rd District)
11. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev., 2nd District)
12. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
13. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M., 2nd District)
14. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif., 4th District)
15. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.)
The ultimate goal of these Public Lands Enemies is to wrest control of these lands out of public hands and give it to corporate polluters and extractive industries, robbing future generations of wild places. With the West losing to development one football field’s worth of natural areas every two and a half minutes — an area larger than Los Angeles each year — these shared lands are more important than ever. Other legislators should be intensely wary of embracing the extreme views of these Public Lands Enemies.
CBD treads a very delicate line of getting people charged up and knowing at the same time that the dog of “real privatization” or even “state transfer” won’t hunt- and quote the polls in the same paper that indicate it. Oh well, and here are their second order enemies:
• Sen. Michael Crapo (R-Idaho)
• Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
• Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.)
• Sen. Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.)
• Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
• Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho)
• Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.)
• Rep. Paul Cook (R-Calif.)
• Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.)
• Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.)
• Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.)
• Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.)
• Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)
• Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-Wash.)
• Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas)
• Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.)
• Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.)
• Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.)
Back to my Wyoming point.. Congressfolk there barely show up, perhaps because there are so few Representatives.
I hear the word “extractive” quite a bit. It seems to imply that people who take things away (oil and gas, coal, woody material) are bad, and people who leave things on federal land (ski lifts, trails, dog and people leavings, microwave towers, pipelines, pitons) are good for the environment. I don’t think it’s that simple. Non-traditional forest products? Grazing takes some grass and leaves some deposits.. and so on.