Senate Moves to Repeal Another Obama-Era Environmental Regulation

By Yessenia Funes Mar 08, 2017

The Senate approved legislation yesterday (March 7) that would repeal a rule the Bureau of Land Management finalized in November 2016 to require federal land managers to consider climate change and other long-term effects for any development on public lands.

Passed by a 51-48 vote, H.J.Res.44 was introduced by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) on January 30. The House already passed the resolution in February. All that remains is President Donald Trump’s signature for the resolution to become concrete.

The bureau dubbed the rule Planning 2.0 and noted its aim was also to increase public involvement. “By implementing these improvements, the BLM endeavors to enhance the way that it involves the public in its planning efforts, including measures to provide earlier, easier, and more meaningful participation,” the bureau states on its website. Some of the groups who have voiced concern over the previous planning process, according to the bureau, include tribal government officials and representatives of "diverse stakeholder groups."

Environmental groups have already responded to the Senate’s vote. The Nature Conservancy’s Global Managing Director for Public Policy Lynn Scarlett said, per an online press release:

The rule represented years of work and public input, and was the first major revision to the BLM’s planning process in over 30 years. It was the product of intensive collaboration over two and a half years, including more than 6,000 public comments. It was more inclusive, incorporated current technology, science, and land management practices and would have delivered more efficient and effective decision-making.

The Natural Resources Defense Council called out the administration’s oil industry influence in a statement: “Unfortunately, Congress is getting its marching orders from the fossil fuel industry, which prefers a rigged system and abhors the transparency afforded by the planning rule. It is regrettable that most of the Republicans in Congress cannot appreciate the fact that our public lands deserve better.”

However, energy and agriculture groups support the federal decision. Myron Ebell, who led Trump’s EPA transition team and serves as director for the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment wrote on the center’s website that the rule was “worse than the current dysfunctional situation.”

Republicans removed the land use rule through the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to reject any law former President Barack Obama submitted to Congress on or since June 13, 2016, through majority vote and presidential signing. 

They’ve used this law to remove other Obama-era rules on methane emissions and the coal industry.

(H/t The Associated Press)