Murkowski secures repeal of BLM planning 2.0 rule

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Senator Lisa Murkowski

Preserves crucial role of states, local stakeholders in agency’s planning process

Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) last week led the Senate’s passage of H.J. Res. 44, the House version of her Congressional Review Act (CRA) disapproval resolution to overturn the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) “Planning 2.0” rule, according to a press release from the Senator.

The resolution passed the Senate by a vote of 51 to 48 and now goes to President Trump for his signature.

“I’m pleased the Senate agreed to return power and decision-making authority to those who actually live near BLM lands in Alaska and other western states,” said Murkowski.

“If left intact, this rule would have harmed grazing, timber, energy development, mineral production, and even recreation on federal lands. Once the president signs this resolution, western stakeholders will no longer be relegated to the sidelines, and once again be able to ensure that decisions are being made locally—not thousands of miles away at BLM headquarters.”

Murkowski is the sponsor of the Senate version of the disapproval resolution (S.J. Res. 15) for BLM’s Planning 2.0 rule.

A total of 17 of her colleagues, including every Republican from a western state with BLM lands within its borders, joined her as cosponsors.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) sponsored the House resolution, which passed that chamber with 234 votes in Feb.

At the start of the debate on the resolution, Murkowski spoke about the necessity of nullifying the Planning 2.0 rule and working with the new administration to identify improvements to BLM’s planning process.

“Our best option is to overturn the Planning 2.0 rule, while we have the ability to do so under the Congressional Review Act, and to hold BLM accountable to the law and its multiple use mission. If we can do that here today, we can then work with our new Secretary of the Interior, Secretary Zinke, to make genuine improvements to this process,” said Murkowski.

Murkowski also summarized her reasons for opposing the Planning 2.0 rule.

“By design, this rule weakens the ability of state and local governments to participate in the management planning process for nearby lands. It demotes states and local governments to the same status as every other member of the public, contrary to a law passed by Congress. And it removes decision-making authority from western states, centralizing it at BLM headquarters in Washington, DC. This is a fatally flawed rule, and we need to send the agency back to the drawing board,” said Murkowski.

Murkowski also spoke to the very strong support that the resolution has received.

Nearly 90 stakeholder groups support eliminating the rule, including the National Association of Counties, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Mining Association, and the Public Lands Council. A variety of state groups, from the Alaska Oil and Gas Association and the California Wool Growers Association to the Oregon Association of Conservation Districts, also oppose the rule.

“Alaska’s energy, mineral, and timber producers are united in their opposition to this rule, and their support of our disapproval resolution,” Murkowski said. “It’s the same story in many other states, from Arizona and New Mexico, to Washington and Oregon, to Montana and South Dakota. This rule affects all 12 BLM states, and those states are not happy about it. It upends BLM’s multiple use mission by allowing the agency to pick and choose among preferred uses, while sidelining industries that provide good-paying jobs in western communities,” said Murkowski.

Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. In the 114th Congress, the Public Lands, Forests and Mining Subcommittee held a hearing on BLM’s proposed Planning 2.0 rule, and Murkowski delivered an opening statement expressing her opposition.

In May 2016, she sent a letter to then-BLM Director Neil Kornze outlining her continuing concerns and calling for the rule to be rescinded.

BLM ignored those concerns, and finalized the rule shortly before the end of the Obama administration.

Archived video of Murkowski’s floor statements on the disapproval resolution for BLM’s Planning 2.0 rule can be found here.

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