Congress

Chaffetz Withdraws Bill to Privatize Public Land

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Good news -- Utah congressman and Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz has withdrawn the bill he introduced that would have privatized federal lands.

Last weekend, more than 1,000 sportsmen, outdoor business owners, and public lands supporters joined Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) in Helena, Montana. Wednesday afternoon, a rally in New Mexico drew hundreds more people, all protesting congressional attempts to sell off or privatize public lands.

The outcry was prompted in part by Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (R-UT) introduction of a bill to sell off 3.3 million acres of public lands — an area the size of Connecticut.

While this is good news, I doubt this is the last we've heard of this.

Republicans, particularly western Republicans, have been chasing after the dream of privatizing federal lands for years. They say they only want to return the land "to the states" (it was never theirs) but in practice that would mean privatizing it.

Managing and maintaining federal lands requires an enormous amount of resources and jurisdiction that only the federal government can provide. If all of that land was suddenly dumped on individual states, there's no way they could afford to manage and maintain it. They would have to sell access to private companies to cover the cost of managing it, and they would probably privatize the management.

Proponents of this effort know states could never handle the cost and responsibility, but that's not their real goal. The goal is privatization and plunder. They look at federal lands and see dollar signs.

The desire to privatize public lands won't go away, but it's possible proponents of it will lose support now that Republicans control everything. There's no big scary Democrat in the White House now and the so-called "Patriot" movement is going to go into hibernation until the next Democrat takes office.

  • Draxiar

    Chaffetz…good work. Now on to investigating the severely mismanaged operation in Yemen, right?

    • ninjaf

      Yeah, he’ll get right on that!

      • We should organize a calling campaign where we call Chaffets once a day, every day until Drumpf is out of office asking him when he is going to investigate the failed Mission in Yemen. What would be a good name…YemeniGate….TrumpGate…..?

        Oh, and I love how the press is saying it was planned under Pres. Obama…..they fail to mention that Pres. Obama specifically rejected the mission as it was planned.

  • muselet

    Jason Chaffetz or one of his R colleagues will reintroduce the bill—or, more likely, slip the language into a large, unrelated bill—as soon as possible. They won’t rest until poor, put-upon extraction industries are out from under the jackboot of the tyrannical Department of Interior.

    There’s something seriously wrong with these people.

    –alopecia

    • Those extraction industries are VERY powerful here in AZ and UT, and they’ve been salivating over the prospect of being able to mine more on the Navajo reservation in the north that extends into Utah (hence Chaffetz). So, yes, we will see this again.

  • Doesn’t this bill also address public lands on the Reservations? There are 56 million acres that the Fed Govt controls and only allows the tribes some limited use of the natural resources. Back in Dec. 2016 Drumpf’s advisers were saying they wanted to give those lands to the tribes so they can fully exploit the natural resources. I hope the natives doesn’t fall for this. They just want their support. What Herr Gropenfuhrer really wants to do is open the lands to private exploitation. I guaran-fucking-tee you that the tribes won’t get exclusive control of that land or if they do, the tribal councils, who are often corrupt, will benefit greatly but the land will be ruined and Native Americans in general will not benefit.

    • Draxiar

      Amen Irish! We only need to look at Standing Rock to get an idea of how it would all go down.