Today, the House passed the Public Access and Lands Improvement Act (H.R. 2954), which would prevent the federal government from acquiring new land until it creates a public website showing its current holdings and which properties are suitable to be sold.

The bill extends federal grazing permits from 10 to 20 years, authorizes timber salvage operations in California forests, and allows for the conveyance of land from the federal government to counties in Florida, Alaska, and Nevada. Democrats criticized the conveyance language because it excuses the land from environmental review and does not require the federal government to be compensated. Democrats also opposed language that would overturn efforts to protect endangered species in North Carolina.

The White House opposes the bill but has not threatened a veto:

"Overall, H.R. 2954 contains a number of provisions that would undermine the responsible balance of interests and considerations in the stewardship of the Nation's lands and natural resources," it said in the SAP. "Further, provisions of the bill would disregard or reduce public engagement on a range of community interests, including natural resource protections, and preclude agencies from considering less environmentally detrimental alternatives."
The bill passed 220 to 194. Six Democrats supported it, and six Republicans opposed it. The rest was party line.

The six Democrats who supported it:

Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Jim Matheson (UT-04)
Mike McIntyre (NC-07)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Kurt Schrader (OR-05)

The six Republicans who opposed it:

Justin Amash (MI-03)
Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08)
Chris Gibson (NY-19)
Pete King (NY-02)
Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02)
Erik Paulsen (MN-03)

Raul Labrador (ID-01) introduced an amendment to require environmental groups that unsuccessfully challenge the government's grazing policies to pay fees and expenses of the directly affected parties. It passed 218 to 198.

Three Democrats supported it:

Jim Costa (CA-16)
Jim Matheson (UT-04)
Mike McIntyre (NC-07)

Six Republicans opposed it:

Paul Broun (GA-10)
Renee Ellmers (NC-02)
Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08)
Morgan Griffith (VA-09)
Richard Hanna (NY-22)
Tim Murphy (PA-18)

Raul Grijalva (AZ-03) introduced an amendment striking the language prohibiting BLM from acquiring new land until it creates a public website showing its current land holdings and land that is suitable to be sold off. It failed 190 to 224.

Only one Republican—Chris Gibson (NY-19)—voted for it.

Dan Maffei (NY-24)
Jim Matheson (UT-04)
Gary Peters (MI-14)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Kurt Schrader (OR-05)

The bill is likely DOA in the Senate.

Originally posted to Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 07:00 PM PST.

Also republished by National Parks and Wildlife Refuges.

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