Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 29, 2017

Contact: Randi Spivak, (310) 779-4894,

Republicans to Advance Four Bills Attacking Climate, Public Lands

WASHINGTON— Led by Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), the House Committee on Natural Resources will mark up four anti-climate and anti-public lands bills on Thursday that would reverse the landmark Obama-era coal moratorium and give thousands of acres of public lands to private developers.

“This is an unmitigated attack on our public lands and public health,” said Randi Spivak, public lands program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Bishop and other members of Congress are ignoring the public’s wishes and blatantly doing the bidding of fossil fuel developers and other special interests. This is not what they were elected to do. Our children, public lands and wildlife deserve better.”

On Thursday Republicans will consider:

  • H.R. 1778, sponsored by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), would roll back the Obama administration’s January 2016 moratorium on new federal coal leasing by requiring congressional approval of the coal moratorium. The Obama administration established the coal moratorium while the Department of the Interior examined the 1970s era leasing program cost and climate impacts. If passed into the law, H.R. 1778 would circumvent a pending court case over whether the Trump administration has the authority to reinstate the coal leasing program without environmental review.
  • H.R. 3117, sponsored by Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W. Va.), would prohibit federal agencies from considering the social cost of carbon on their actions. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that federal agencies take a “hard look” at the environmental impacts of their proposed projects. NEPA is also the primary means to ensure public participation in agency decision-making and minimize harm to the environment. This bill would transfer complex science decisions from technical experts at federal agencies to Congress and prevent meaningful public participation.
  • H.R. 2630, sponsored by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), would exempt 8,000 acres of federal land from laws requiring taxpayers to be compensated when federal lands are sold or disposed of. Based on Gosar’s website and other news articles, a 2,400-foot-tall experimental solar chimney will be built on the land to generate electricity. A Senate companion bill, S. 1222, was introduced in May by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).
  • H.R. 4299, sponsored by Bishop, would allow the military to appropriate public land indefinitely for military use, without environmental review. Under current law, the taking of public land for military uses must be reviewed every 25 years along with a full environmental impact statement. This bill would prevent future environmental review and public disclosure of harms under NEPA on those public lands.

In the first 10 months of the 115th Congress, Republicans have introduced more than 80 bills that attack public lands, weaken environmental safeguards on those lands or turn over control to states and local governments. These attacks come despite the fact that the vast majority of voters across political parties support protecting and maintaining forests, national parks, monuments and other public lands and waters.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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