Chaffetz Pulls Bill to Sell 3.3M Acres of Public Lands
Friday, February 3, 2017
Posted by: Sharon Leach
Sale of Public Lands (H.R. 621) is Withdrawn by Utah's Chaffetz (R):
Based on reports yesterday, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) stated that pressures from sportsman groups and others have urged him to pull his legislation that would have disposed of 3.3 million acres of federal lands, introduced last week. He is withdrawing the bill.
House Bill 621 authorized sale of public lands in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Wyoming as well as Utah — where the Congressman is from. These public lands were listed as appropriate for sale or exchange in a 1997 Interior Department report and they were part of a larger plan to benefit Everglades restoration.
" I hear you and HR 621 dies tomorrow," said Chaffetz in response to pressure. He identified himself as a "proud gun owner" and hunter.
Pressure opposing the bill included a social media campaign led by Backcountry Hunters & Anglers to target his bill. Aaron Kindle, Western sportsmen's campaign manager for the National Wildlife Federation, likewise credited the flood of calls and emails to Chaffetz's office for the bill's demise.
Kindle said, "We hope this decision signals that Rep. Chaffetz and his congressional colleagues are starting to understand how important these lands are to Americans and that they'll cease their efforts to seize them from the public trust."
Kindle went on to suggest that House lawmakers should reverse language included in this session's rules package that allows the House to disregard the cost of a land transfer, as determined by the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO's estimate comes from the loss of revenue from activities like drilling, logging and grazing.
A second bill, H.R. 622, introduced by Chaffetz, has not been withdrawn. This bill seeks to eliminate hundreds of law enforcement positions at the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service in favor of allowing local police to monitor public lands (E&E Daily, Jan. 25).