Agriculture And Energy Groups Praise Repeal of Obama BLM’s ‘Planning 2.0’ Rule
Representatives from the agriculture and energy sectors are celebrating the repeal of the Obama administration’s last-minute overhaul of planning on federal lands.
President Donald Trump signed the repeal measure – a disapproval motion under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) – yesterday. The CRA motion targeted “Planning 2.0,” a regulation finalized in December by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The Obama administration claimed Planning 2.0 would create a “more streamlined process” for federal land-use decisions that still made room for state and local interests in the West. Environmental groups supported the changes. But critics said the planning regulation would actually centralize more decision-making authority at BLM headquarters in Washington, D.C., to the detriment of western states.
“BLM’s Planning 2.0 Rule would have caused a wholesale shift in management focus at BLM by prioritizing ‘social and environmental change’ over ensuring the multiple use of public lands,” said Ethan Lane, executive director of the Public Lands Council, a group representing cattle and sheep ranchers in the West. “When you couple the wholesale shift away from multiple-use with the elimination of stakeholder and local input, the rule was unworkable for western communities,” he said.
Western lawmakers who pushed the CRA resolution through Congress said Planning 2.0 was part of a bigger trend they plan to reverse.
“This rule would have given even more power to the bureaucracy in Washington when what we need is the exact opposite,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said. Republicans in Congress will take more steps to “shift land management decisions back to the people who live in these areas and away from unelected, and in many cases unaccountable, bureaucrats,” Bishop said.
U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who sponsored the Planning 2.0 disapproval motion, said the Obama administration’s overhaul of land-use decisions in the West “would have had far reaching and damaging implications on public lands and our economy in Wyoming.”
“Planning 2.0 would have given the federal government and radical environmental groups control over land use and resource planning in our state, at the expense of local officials and stakeholders,” Cheney said.
The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) also welcomed news of Planning 2.0’s repeal. “Long-term business planning and certainty is a critical component to the leasing process for oil and natural gas producers,” said Barry Russell, IPAA’s president and CEO. “The rule allowed all planning documents to be changed at any moment, which does not provide a set understanding of expectations and long-term planning,” Russell said.
Environmental activist groups were close allies of the Obama administration and campaigned aggressively against the repeal of Planning 2.0. The League of Conservation Voters, for example, called the CRA motion “radical” and warned it would count the vote towards the group’s National Environmental Scorecard for individual lawmakers.
But representatives from the energy sector said Planning 2.0 would have elevated the interests of national environmental groups based on the east and west coasts above the interests of the general public, and especially the states and communities of the West.
“Someone from New York cavalierly sending in a Sierra Club-generated email opposing a rancher’s grazing permit or a local oilfield worker’s project simply is not invested as deeply as those living in western communities,” Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, said in a statement after the Senate voted to repeal Planning 2.0. The Alliance represents the Western oil and natural gas industry and is a supporter of Western Wire.
“Western governors, tribal councils, county commissioners, ranchers, and local stakeholders directly involved in the communities surrounded by federal lands should be afforded a higher level of deference than outside special interests,” Sgamma said.