top of page

U.S. Rep. Newhouse amendment protects western communities from federal overreach

Representative Newhouse offers amendment to the subcommittee regarding BLM proposed rule. Picture Source:

On July 19th, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) received a well-deserved check from the legislative branch on their attempt to expand the definition of a codified law. Under the Federal Land Management and Policy Act (FLMPA) of 1976 the BLM is tasked to “manage the public lands under the principles of multiple use and sustained yield.” “Principal or major uses” are specified as “domestic livestock grazing, fish and wildlife development and utilization, mineral exploration and production, rights-of-way, outdoor recreation, and timber production.”

Not once is conservation mentioned as a major use.

But the BLM’s newly proposed “Landscape and Conservation Health” rule attempts to expand the definition of multiple use as “restoration and protective actions.” Mountain States Policy Center wrote on the problems of this rule and why actual conservation leases are a good theory, but this rule change is a bad proposal.

Circumnavigating the authority of the legislative branch, the proposed rule attempts to give authority to the BLM, where none exists by law. The outrage and opposition from the western United States is understandable as the proposed rule would limit access to public lands and endanger many livelihoods and communities.

Last week, Representative Dan Newhouse (R-Washington) offered an amendment to the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill which would block funds from being used to finalize and implement the BLM’s proposed rule.

Representative Newhouse said:

“As Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, I believe in the multiple-use mandate to produce sustainable yield—not lock up our lands from accessing the bountiful resources and beautiful views our public lands offer. “In the midst of record-high energy prices and food costs, this Administration wants to exacerbate the problem by proposing a regulation that would reduce resource development—including renewable energy—and ranching on public lands. “The BLM is confusing conservation for preservation by sidestepping Congress. They do not have the authority for this proposed rule and I urge all of my colleagues to support my amendment. I yield back.”

Newhouse along with many others are protecting a vital resource of the western United States. More than 90% of the BLM’s 245 million acres are located in the West and Newhouse wants to protect access to those lands for their constituents. As the US Chamber of Commerce said, “Since federal law already allows the government to conserve land, the rule is not necessary. However, it’s implementation could threaten energy development and mining and grazing on public lands, which in turn could increase prices on food and energy for all Americans.”

The states are also voicing their opposition. The Attorney Generals of Idaho, Arkansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah all requested for the BLM to immediately withdraw the proposed rule in its entirety. The Attorney Generals cite that the “grave concerns for states…would inflict immediate injuries on State, public, and small business interests.”

The Newhouse Amendment, adopted by the subcommittee via voice vote, provides a needed check on the overreach of the executive branch, protecting the future of the western United States. Federal lands are critical to the economic health of the west, and the damaging overreach of the executive branch needs to be stopped to protect the livelihoods and communities that depend on access to these public lands.

bottom of page