The BLM Land Transfer Bills

Thu, 20 Jul 1995 16:00:20 -0400

The following information on the BLM land transfers is presented by CEHP via
ACRA. Folks out west need to read this and react accordingly. Both the
House and the Senate have versions. Call and write you members soon.

Tom Wheaton
Exec. Dir. - ACRA


S. 1031 - Senator Craig Thomas (R-Wyoming)

SUMMARY: On July 13, Senator Thomas introduced S. 1031, a bill to transfer
ownership of the lands currently administered by the Bureau of Land
Management (BLM) to the states. Six Senators cosponsored the bill: Alan
Simpson (R-Wyoming), Conrad Burns (R-Montana), Larry Craig (R-Idaho), Ted
Stevens (R-Alaska), Dirk Kempthorne (R-Idaho), and Jesse Helms (R-North
Carolina). The bill would require the Secretary of the Interior to offer all
BLM lands, including mineral holdings and most water rights, to the states.
The Governor of a state would then have 2 years to accept or decline the
offer. Actual transfer of the land would take place over a 10 year period.
During the transition, funding for the BLM would be capped at $800 million
per year. Although wilderness lands transferred to the states would remain
public and subject to federal statutes--such as the Wilderness Act of
1964--the Secretary of the Interior's role in administering these regulations
would be taken over by the states.

Many public interest groups oppose the bill. The public lands were
originally acquired on behalf of all the people of the United States, not
just the states that were subsequently created around them. Congress has
reviewed this issue many times, and with bipartisan support has (with some
exceptions) maintained the principle of federal ownership.

OUTLOOK: The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Resources.
Sen. Thomas' office did not know when hearings would be held, but said that
they would like to begin as soon as possible. Committee staff said that,
through the last week of July, no hearings were scheduled for the bill;
however, they expect to begin work on it before the August recess.

H.R. 2032 - Representative James V. Hansen (R-Utah)

SUMMARY: Also on July 13, Rep. Hansen introduced an identical bill, H.R.
2032, in the House. The bill was cosponsored by nine other Representatives:
Barbara Vucanovich (R-Nevada), Barbara Cubin (R-Wyoming), Wes Cooley
(R-Oregon), Richard Pombo (R-California), John Doolittle (R-California),
Wally Herger (R-California), Joe Skeen (R-New Mexico), Bob Stump (R-Arizona),
and Wayne Allard (R-Colorado).

OUTLOOK: The bill was referred to the Committee on Resources, Subcommittee
on National Parks, Forests and Lands. Committee staff said that hearings
would be held on August 1. Witnesses for the hearing will be announced a few
days before the hearing.

Prepared by Rob Westover, CEHP Incorporated. Updated July 19, 1995.