Friday, November 05, 2010

Republicans On House Natural Resources Committee Planning Big Changes For Public Lands

This week, of course, the focus is tightly on the Congress, which has undergone a sea change of political persuasion, particularly in the U.S. House of Representatives. It could be argued that this swing to the right is a rebound of a swing too far left, one in which the Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress felt so emboldened that compromise and even statesmanship were unnecessary. So now the pendulum has rebounded far to the right. Its swing has set off fears that, when it comes to the environment, the next two years might not bring good tidings. Fresh off their Election Day tidal wave, and energized by it, U.S. Reps. Doc Hastings, R-Washington, and Rob Bishop, R-Utah, envision big changes for public lands in the West, changes that could greatly impact national parks. While the Democratic Party's slim majority in the Senate could stand in the way of those plans, expect plenty of effort in the coming two years to be spent by some members of the House to rewrite the rules when it comes to public lands. Two congressmen who might be found at the front of the line when it comes to redrafting environmental regs and policy could be Mr. Hastings and Mr. Bishop, two Republicans whose legislative records and public comments show a disdain for federal ownership of Western lands. Less than 24 hours after their party's sweeping victory gave the GOP control over the House of Representatives, Rep. Hastings announced his priorities for the Natural Resources Committee...more

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