Friday, January 20, 2017

House opens door for transfer of federal lands: Will Trump play ball? - Full Article

January 12 2017

By Stuart Leavenworth


Emboldened by the change of administration, GOP lawmakers are quietly making moves that would permit a potentially vast transfer of federal land to states and other entities.

On a party line vote last week, the House of Representatives approved rule changes that would expedite such transfers, alarming environmental and recreation groups that have long called for “public lands to stay in public hands.”

President-elect Donald Trump and his pick for Interior secretary, Rep. Ryan Zinke, a Montana Republican, have both said they oppose turning federal lands over to states or localities. Even so, Zinke joined his party in approving the Jan. 3 rules package, raising questions about how Trump might act if lands transfer legislation were to reach his desk.

“I’m not very confident. I am very worried,” said Sharon Buccino, a lawyer who directs the land and wildlife program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group. “Both Trump and Zinke say they oppose the transfer of federal land, but when it came to vote last week, Zinke voted to make it easier to do land transfers...”

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