In their typical multi-prong attack, the Republicans cut funding to public land services, then accuse those services of being unable to handle the task. The goal is to pass the lands to local governments where it will be much easier to bribe politicians and cherry-pick the best lands. When the burden of land management falls on local governments, they will fail and throw up their hands and sell the lands. ROBBERY!
If local governments happen to bankrupt themselves trying to manage public lands, all the better, because then local governments will have to beg corporations to take over a wider array of public services. This is the most transparent of vile schemes. [hat tip to Meg Adams]
These types of land-grab schemes are as old as the railroads. But the chief salesman for this latest land seizure campaign, the American Lands Council, is having some success pitching state legislators on “model legislation” to enable these transfers. The legislation was drafted with the help of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, which receives financing from the utility industry and fossil-fuel producers.
It is unclear whether such legislation is even enforceable.
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Still, even the Republican National Committee has bought the snake oil the American Lands Council is selling. Last January, the committee endorsed the transfer of public lands to the states. In addition, the United States House of Representatives, controlled by Republicans, endorsed the outright sale of our public lands.
Like other Westerners who value our shared lands as assets to be used, enjoyed and passed to future generations, I find this dispiriting to see. And for an overwhelming majority of public land users in the West who pay their grazing fees and play by the rules, the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion of Cliven Bundy and the American Lands Council is not so much a movement as another special-interest-financed boondoggle.