2Center or American Progress | State Eorts to ‘Reclaim’ Our Public Lands
In he pas year, legislaures in seven wesern saes—Uah, Arizona, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Idaho—have passed, inroduced, or explored legisla-ion demanding ha he ederal governmen urn over millions o acres o ederal publiclands o he saes. I successul, hese bills could be disasrous: Raher han being man-aged or he bene and use o he American public, hese lands will insead be managedin whaever way each sae wans o use hem—which generally means maximizingprivae pros hrough mining, drilling, and oher resource exracion.Tese lawmakers are waging a losing batle ha amouns o litle more han poliicalgrandsanding o rally heir exreme conservaive base and eed an anigovernmennarraive. Such bills conradic he majoriy o public opinion in hese saes, as well aseconomic realiies and consiuional preceden daing back o he mid-19h cenury. ALEC and Americans or Prosperiy have been anning he re under hese eors o“reclaim” ederal public lands. ALEC is a conservaive corporae ron group unded by ossil-uel ineress such as he Koch brohers and ExxonMobil ha develops model leg-islaion or sae legislaors o inroduce in heir legislaures,
and i has endorsed many o he bills urning public lands over o he saes. As he Associaed Press repored,“Lawmakers in Uah and Arizona have said he legislaion is endorsed by he AmericanLegislaive Exchange Council, a group ha advocaes conservaive ideals, and hey expec i o evenually be inroduced in oher Wesern saes.”
Ta should come as litle surprise, considering ha one o ALEC’s “model bills”—hose ha i dras and develops o shop o various sae legislaors—is he “SagebrushRebellion Ac,” which was “designed o esablish a mechanism or he ranser o owner-ship o” non-sae lands “rom he ederal governmen o he saes.”
Furher evidence ha ALEC is he puppe maser behind hese perormances: UahSae Rep. Ken Ivory (R), who is leading he charge or saes o “ake back” publiclands hrough his “American Lands Council,” has been presening he idea o urningederal land over o he saes a ALEC conerences such as he one in Sal Lake Ciy lassummer.
Addiionally, Rep. Ivory has been promoing his idea o various sae legisla-ures—he spoke, or example, wih Wyoming’s Join Minerals, Business and EconomicDevelopmen Inerim Commitee in Ocober 2012.
Proponens o hese bills claim ha he saes do no receive ax revenue rom ederallands and argue ha he proceeds rom urning he land over o he saes o hen beurher developed can help und essenial sae services such as educaion.
Tey alsoargue ha he ederal governmen promised o urn public lands over o he saes a heesablishmen o heir saehoods more han 100 years ago.Tis issue brie provides an overview o each sae’s atemp o orce he urnover o public lands, and hen describes why his is no only bad policy ha is no in accordance