Today we finally got a look at the Bishop-Chaffetz Public Lands Initiative discussion draft, covering public lands issues in 7 eastern Utah counties. It was not worth the wait.
From the Center for Western Priorities:
After years of work, Congressman Rob Bishop released a draft of his long-awaited Public Lands Initiative (PLI) bill on Wednesday. Early reporting already shows Congressman Bishop trying to spin his bill as a balanced and collaborative success story, even before the public has an opportunity to review the legislation.
Don’t be fooled: The draft Public Lands Initiative bill is an extreme and deceptive attack on our nation’s public lands that does little for conservation. The legislation is another ideological vehicle for Congressman Bishop to express his disdain for national public lands, rather than a true attempt at addressing diverse stakeholder needs.
Rep. Bishop stated recently that “people will win and people will lose” in his bill. There’s no doubt that the winners Bishop picked are big oil and gas companies and Utah’s misguided public lands policy, while the losers include hikers, campers, sportsmen and women, Native American tribes, and the American people.
- The worst part of the bill is that the 40 areas Congressman Bishop calls “Wilderness” would not be designated wilderness as it’s been understood since the passage of the Wilderness Act over 50 years ago. “It is a designation in name only, and that alone makes the bill a nonstarter,” says Aaron Weiss, spokesman for the Center for Western Priorities.
- Unspoiled public lands that are currently set aside as BLM wilderness study areas would be given up forever and released for industrial uses.
- The bill also creates so-called “energy zones,” i.e. areas open to expedited oil, gas, and other mineral leasing and development.
- The bill seeks to open up disputed RS 2477 right-of-way claims to motorized travel.
- Bishop wants to prohibit any new national monument designations by presidential proclamation.
- Congressman Bishop just waged a vicious and ultimately unsuccessful battle against America’s most successful parks program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Fresh off his defeat, Bishop is now trying to gut LWCF within Utah by banning land management agencies from using LWCF funds to protect land inside new wilderness and conservation areas.
Public Lands Initiative discussion draft
Bishop Public Lands Proposal Unveiled, Already Sparking Criticism
Bishop public lands bill unveiled amid support, criticism
Rob Bishop’s “Public Lands Initiative” is an Insidious Attack on Our Public Lands
[O]ver the past several months there have been many significant changes made to the bill, turning it from a gesture of compromise to a divisive bill that includes Bundy-style public land giveaways, pseudo-wilderness protections, accelerated oil and gas development, and the marginalization of several original stakeholder groups.