by Lillian Anderson
This week, the House of Representatives passed a new rules package that places our federal lands at risk.
In the past, it has been difficult to transfer federal lands to the control of state governments because the lands hold clear value and generate revenue. If lands were taken out of federal control, the House had to account for the money that the U.S. Treasury would lose by proposing budget cuts or introducing a new source of revenue. The new rule passed by the House of Representatives, however, overturns this requirement that ensures the protection of our federal lands.
It will be much easier now for incoming members of Congress to hand out federal land to state governments. Restrictions on state lands are much less stringent than those on federal lands, and they are easier to sell to private companies. It is likely that state governments lacking funds will sell off these lands for extra revenue. This means, lands that had previously been set aside for purposes like wildlife habitat and recreation are now at risk of extractive industries and development.
Representative Raul Grijalva of the Natural Resources Committee has stated that this rule change is “a flagrant attack on places and resources valued and beloved by the American people,” and we agree. This issue affects us on the east coast because we have so few protected federal lands as is. We cannot afford to lose any more of these cherished places.
You can help us fight this change by contacting your representative and letting them know that we, their constituents, care about these issues and will not support changes that place our publicly owned land at risk.
Find out who your representative is here: http://ourwild.wilderness.org/#/action