The federal government has no precise way of measuring its hundreds of millions of acres in land holdings or accounting for them in a systematic manner, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) told a House committee during a hearing yesterday. “One of my great frustrations is the fact that although the federal government owns some 640 million acres of land it is such a bad landlord. [It doesn’t] take care of this land and can’t even provide a comprehensive list of its land holdings,” McClintock said, noting the Government Accountability Office “has warned for years of these forgotten and abandoned lands.”
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) used a recent town hall appearance in his home state of Colorado to criticize “Keep It in the Ground” activists and their campaign against the Keystone XL pipeline, disagreeing with their positions on domestic energy development. “My objection to it is that it did nothing to build the environmental movement,” the Democrat said Friday about opposition to the oil pipeline during the town hall in Boulder. “It did nothing to persuade people that didn’t agree with us that climate was something really important.”
A move proposed this week by Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico and two fellow Democrats to repeal the Congressional Review Act is receiving pushback in the West. “The Congressional Review Act is a critical tool for Congress to use to ensure government works better for taxpayers,” Ryan Flynn, executive director of the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association, said in a statement to Western Wire.
Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is expected today to recommend against appealing a Colorado Court of Appeals ruling in a lawsuit concerning oil and natural gas development in the state, multiple sources tell Western Wire. The ruling, if left to stand, would upend how the state’s oil and natural gas regulatory agency has approached project permitting for decades. Regardless of the governor’s recommendation, the decision to appeal the ruling rests with state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman (R).
Earlier this week, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt reiterated the Trump administration’s commitment to restoring the role of states in the regulation of water. An executive order issued by President Trump on Feb. 28 directs the EPA Administrator and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works to review, and rescind or revise, the Clean Water Rule, also known as the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS).
Vice President Mike Pence reiterated the Trump administration’s commitment to American energy development while touring a coal mine in Montana last Friday. “I just want to assure you that this administration is absolutely determined to continue to expand the opportunities to develop American energy in an environmentally responsible way,” Pence said after visiting a mine on the Crow Indian Reservation on May 12.
In a major new weeklong push by anti-fossil fuel groups to pressure universities, financial institutions and organizations to sell off their investments in the fossil fuel industry, only a handful of students in the West participated. Desperate for wins, the student activists resorted to claiming victory for getting kicked out of university buildings, changing the discussion on campus and shutting down banks.