The Action Plan for Public Lands and Education Act is a public land giveaway

Sep 22, 2012

Western states could be stuck in financial gridlock while corporate polluters profit


The Wilderness Society today strongly opposed H.R. 2852, “The Action Plan for Public Lands and Education Act of 2011,” introduced in the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee.  This hearing comes during Great Outdoors America Week, in the heart of National Wilderness Month, and just days before Public Lands Day on September 24.

Testifying before the Subcommittee, David Alberswerth, Senior Policy Advisor at The Wilderness Society said, “We oppose enactment of H.R. 2852, which essentially requires the federal government to give away 5 percent of the ‘unappropriated public lands,’ in each western state,” which includes most Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and National Forest lands. “This is an unwarranted and unmerited giveaway of assets owned by all Americans to a select few states.”

According to our initial analysis, the legislation would require 29.8 million acres to be transferred to the western states, effectively giving away tens of billions of dollars of American taxpayer assets without compensation to those taxpayers.  In his testimony, Alberswerth offers alternative and better ways to enhance the revenues of western states. For example, oil and gas companies only pay a 12.5 percent royalty rate for oil and gas extracted from federal public lands, while often paying significantly higher royalty rates on state-owned lands.

“… [O]ur recommendation is that, instead of promoting a bill like H.R. 2852 which unnecessarily perpetuates conflicts, misunderstandings, and gridlock over the status and management of America’s public lands and national forests, the sponsors of this legislation should change direction and seek out practical solutions to the nettlesome issues of federal/state land and resource ownership patterns,” Alberswerth said.

To view David’s testimony, please visit:

Sadly, this legislation comes during a barrage of unprecedented attacks on America’s lands and waters from a minority in Congress:

• Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R, CA-22) has introduced risky legislation, The Great Outdoors Giveaway, that would give corporate polluters access to protected national forests and BLM lands.

• Devastating budget cuts have been made to our most needed programs, and further cuts could result in closures in our parks, refuges and other wild places.

• Several Congressmen have introduced numerous bills that would severely undercut the President’s ability to designate national monuments using the Antiquities Act.

• Various bills have been introduced that would waive environmental regulations and destroy public lands on our nation’s borders, and eviscerate the Wilderness Act of 1964.

The Wilderness Society will continue to work with people across the U.S. to ensure that bipartisan wilderness legislation becomes law, and protect our natural heritage for future generations.

David Alberswerth