WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed a bill Monday that kills a federal rule dictating planning on public lands in Western states — including 47.5 million acres in Nevada.
There to witness the signing was Humboldt County Commissioner Jim French, a retired wildlife biologist, who fought the regulation imposed by the Obama administration in December.
“It was crystal clear there were things that were going to change dramatically,” French told the Review-Journal following the White House bill signing. “We had way too much to lose.”
Trump, who signed three bills Monday that were recently passed by the House and Senate, said he wanted to “remove every job-killing regulation we can find.”
Conservationists and Democrats argued that the Obama administration regulation, known as the Planning 2.0 rule, protected Bureau of Land Management lands from commercial interests.
All GOP senators from Western states, including Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., were co-sponsors of a resolution calling for the repeal of the regulation. It was sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, the chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The bill passed the Senate earlier this month on a 51-48 vote. Heller voted for the resolution. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., voted against it.
The House of Representatives approved a similar resolution in February on a 234-186 vote. That resolution, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Cheney, R-Wyo., was co-sponsored by Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev.
Reps. Ruben Kihuen, Jacky Rosen and Dina Titus, all Nevada Democrats, voted against the resolution.
The Obama administration regulation changed a process at the Bureau of Land Management that had been in place for 34 years.
French said the Obama administration rule would have taken decision-making away from local stakeholders and sent it to bureaucrats in Washington. He noted that the two largest industries in Humboldt County were gold mining and livestock, both dependent on public lands.
The regulation would have applied to future use of all 245 million acres of public lands. There are 47.5 million acres of public land in Nevada, according to BLM.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the rule provided transparency on how public lands are used.
She said the BLM rule encouraged participation from states, local and tribal interests, and continued a “bottom-up review” of public land use from directors in the states. Outdoors sporting groups, hunters and conservationists favored the rule, she said.
Cortez Masto said she favored the regulation because it “had the opportunity to bring more people to the table.”
The repeal of the rule was allowed under the Congressional Review Act, a law that enables Congress to roll back regulations after 60 legislative days following enactment.