Ryan Budget Uses Myth Feds Are Buying Land To Block Energy To Justify Selling Off ‘Millions Of Acres’ Of Public Land

This morning House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) offered his fiscal year 2014 budget, which the Wall Street Journal called “almost identical” to the Romney-Ryan presidential platform last year.  In addition to cutting taxes for the rich and preserving tax breaks for Big Oil, the budget offers an extreme and flawed view of public lands and energy development.

For example, in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal last night, Ryan offered a confused vision of government programs designed to purchase lands from willing sellers:

America has the world’s largest natural gas, oil and coal reserves—enough natural gas to meet the country’s needs for 90 years. Yet the administration is buying up land to prevent further development. Our budget opens these lands to development, so families will have affordable energy.

In actuality, there are only limited instances in which the federal government buys land, which can occur via two programs.  First, the Land and Water Conservation Fund uses receipts from offshore oil and gas drilling (not taxpayer dollars) to purchase inholdings from willing sellers within national parks, monuments, and other areas.   As an example, a piece of the Flight 93 Memorial was protected through an LWCF land acquisition.

Additionally, there are already statutes and regulations in place that allow the government to sell or dispose of certain public lands (see, for example, Sections 203 and 209 of the Federal Land and Policy Management Act).  Importantly, there must be willing sellers before the government purchases additional land to make it public, and so it is unclear what Ryan means when he says the administration is trying to “prevent further development.”

And, despite the fact that we already have a program in place to sell and dispose of federal lands, the Ryan budget explicitly calls for selling off public lands:

In the last year alone, Republicans put forth proposals to sell unneeded federal property.  Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah has proposed to sell millions of acres of unneeded federal land… Such sales could also potentially be encouraged by reducing appropriations to various agencies.

Selling off public lands to then be used for extractive purposes is not supported by the American public.  Indeed, a recent poll from Colorado College State of the Rockies project determined that only 30 percent of voters in six western states agreed with the statement that “too much public land” is a serious problem.

Jessica is the Manager of Research and Outreach for the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.


10 Responses to Ryan Budget Uses Myth Feds Are Buying Land To Block Energy To Justify Selling Off ‘Millions Of Acres’ Of Public Land

  1. Tami Kennedy says:

    Great news for private business, if you are the oil or natural gas industry. Keep the government out of your pockets to line the carbon industry’s pockets with profits. Throw in a few tax subsidies too.

  2. Thanks for pointing out this important aspect of the Republican budget proposal.

    Good thing it is DOA!

    Please take a look at the devastating risk of the Walden/Schrader/Defazio “O&C Trust Act” proposal, a blatant attempt to de facto transfer some 15. million acres of rich Douglas fir forest in Oregon to the timber industry for rapid liquidation.

    The effects on climate, salmon, watersheds, and rural communities will be disastrous if this scam is allowed to go forward.

    And the emboldening of the broader public lands giveaway constituency, if the Walden/Schrader/Defazio scheme succeeds, would generate a terrible multiplier.

  3. squidboy6 says:

    I would suggest that Ryan take a drive through Central Texas but he wouldn’t see anything if he did (only sees what he wants to see) so I’m not going to push it.

    I’ve just passed through and on Monday, March 4th, 2013 it was 86 deg F. There was drought all the way once I left the Arkansas Plateau. Through most of the drive it was a horrible, barren place. The drought went from Texas to Coastal California where there was some light rain and snow but it was really thin this year.

    The other horrible sight were all the fracking ponds covering Texas. Thousands of them. All surrounded by dead and dying or burned vegetation.

    I’ve got mixed feelings about the extensive fracking in Texas because I kinda feel that the people there deserve it. They deserve to have their water and air polluted so they can feed their kids. I’m not serious about this but it’s hard to feel sorry for them. I have a few relatives there and they’re not conservatives nor are they extremists. Fracking isn’t going on around them either.

    Then, when I was finally out of Texas, and across New Mexico I stopped near the Chiricahua National Monument rising out of the Arizona/New Mexican desert. The campground near Cave Creek was really nice and there were plenty of trees – with a large portion of them dead from drought and fires, but mostly drought. So they were getting cut down near the campground so they wouldn’t fall on unsuspecting campers.

    I hadn’t been through that part of Texas for a long time, many decades and it was changed from the drought. Arkansas is still a place of rivers, trees, and flooding but so was Northern Texas and every riverbed and every streambed I saw was dry except for the tiny flow in the upper Pecos River. Central Texas will be arriving in Louisiana and Mississippi soon, when the wind really gets going late this year.

  4. Lonnie says:

    If Paul Ryan Lies “First and Often” he figures he has a better chance of some or more people believing him. I wish that someone would slap that “liars smirk” off his face.

  5. Texas Aggie says:

    What is really going to happen to TX is that water will become an issue for second amendment solutions. Already there is severe distortion in water use because of the legal landscape that says anything under your property is yours to pump however you want to, and to blazes with the people downstream. The drought is just going to bring things to a head that much faster.

  6. Gary Reber says:

    If the government were to purchase land for energy development or for new city societal development, the policy should be to lease its planned use to private sector developers and business who agree to broad ownership of their ventures.

    Today we accept as normal public ownership of gigantic capital instruments like mass rail, subways, government office buildings, universities, water systems, and power systems. These government-owned enterprises and services could be transformed into competitive private sector companies managed by Private Facilities Corporations with the use of the asset or facility leased to the normal using body. The wages of the Private Facilities Corporation(s) are passed through to the leasing body. This would allow us to build the ownership of what is now public capital into individuals and reduce the cost of government, including public pension systems. Thus, when you build the ownership into the employees of the Private Facilities Corporation(s), who now have a vested interest in its quality of operation and maintenance, the contracted lease rental fee committed by the government entity will give the employee stockholders a reasonable return and lesson or replace the need for supplemental redistribution programs.

    Consumer Stock Ownership Plan financing can simultaneously build the ownership into the consumers of monopolies such as telecommunications, water and power companies, mass-transit, and even cable and satellite television, who are the source of all their funding, and dividends paid out to the consumer owners would become an offset to their utility bills.

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    They are the Enemies of Life and the Assassins of Mankind, yet they keep on spreading their malevolence, everywhere, with precious little opposition. I used to wonder when humanity would overthrow the cuckoos in its nest, the Rightwing robopaths, but I now see them readying to push the rest of us out, as the screech and cackle to be fed, more and more and more, and I doubt that we ever will.

  8. Shane says:

    This is literally the Libertarian Agenda. Private ownership of the entire planet. Maybe asteroids too. Stars, airspace, portions of the core of the planet. No limit.

  9. Scott says:

    Myths are stories we tell ourselves when we are groping for understanding and don’t have a scientific explanation. Lies are things Paul Ryan says about the economy and the environment. Don’t disrespect myths.

  10. Chris Winter says:

    It may be a stretch, but when I saw that picture I thought there was a resemblance to a certain character known to Mad Magazine fans: