House of Representatives v. BLM – monuments and the public lands rule

Grand Staircase – “” (Larry C. Price)

Dismissal of a lawsuit against President Biden’s proclamation restoring the boundaries of the Grand Staircase and Bears Ears national monuments allows the NEPA process to develop a management plan for these areas to proceed unhindered.  Biden ordered the BLM to work on replacing the Trump Administration’s resource management plan, and the BLM published its draft RMP on August 11 for public comment.

BLM may proceed unhindered, that is unless Congress decides to hinder them.  The FY2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Bill the House Appropriations Committee passed in July, which the full House of Representatives is expected to vote on in September, includes a rider that would require the BLM to manage the Grand Staircase NM in accordance with the plan finalized after Trump reduced the monument.

Which is the better planning process – RMPs based on public involvement through NEPA or RMPs based on appropriations riders?

The bill would also deny funding to implement the BLM’s public lands rule (a popular topic with many posts here from Sharon).  Another bill would force BLM to withdraw the rule (without considering all those public comments).

Kya Marienfeld, wild lands attorney for SUWA, called the Utah congressional delegation’s lack of support for the state’s public lands disappointing but adds that opposition is offset by more enlightened members of Congress who actively support the Grand Staircase and other public lands.

Appropriation riders seem to be kind of crap-shoot in the turmoil of budget negotiations, so I have no idea what the betting line would be on President Biden signing off on this one.  The “more enlightened members of Congress” may have more of an influence on defeating the withdrawal proposal.  Is that a bad thing?



3 thoughts on “House of Representatives v. BLM – monuments and the public lands rule”

  1. I’m glad there’s at least a chance Congress might act here, though I’m really curious why they are doing this for Grand Staircase but not Bears Ears, since those two kind of go together as the monuments both parties are playing ping pong over. Personally I would prefer that Congress actually pass a bill abolishing both monuments outright and exempting Utah from future monument designations under the Antiquities Act like Wyoming is, but I suppose that’s not in the cards with a divided Congress. At any rate, this could at least protect against the horrible management plan currently proposed for Grand Staircase, which at least in the worst alternative is basically proposing to close the few remaining roads left open by the 2000 RMP and manage the entire monument for wilderness characteristics.

  2. FWIW, I think once the Prez took public processes off the table, i.e., Monumentizing, then any other non RMP way of influencing outcomes is also appropriate. It doesn’t seem to fair to say “political decisions for me, but not for thee.”


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