federal lands

Stephanie Joyce

Newly minted Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke just took a massive step towards streamlining the permitting process for oil and gas drilling on federal lands. Wyoming lawmakers love the move, but Democrats fear it’s a dangerous first step down a slippery slope.   

Earthworks

The U.S. Senate decided not to overturn the Obama era methane rule, which seeks to limit the venting and flaring of methane by oil and gas drillers on federal land. 

In a tight vote, three Republicans sided with Democrats in rejecting the rollback of the methane regulation.

Supporters of the rule said it keeps the air clean in states like Wyoming with widespread gas development on public lands. Opponents said the rule is redundant with state and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations already in place.

TYRA OLSTAD- Fossil Butte National Monument

A controversial constitutional amendment that would have allowed the state to take over management of federal lands was killed late Friday afternoon by legislators who realized they did not have enough votes to pass it. 

The Select Committee on Federal Natural Resources said they drafted the proposed amendment as a way to protect public access to federal lands. House Majority Floor Leader David Miller said legal actions by other states could force Wyoming to take over public lands.

Melodie Edwards

A bill drafted for the legislature that proposed to revise Wyoming's constitution to allow the state to take over management of federal lands, has died. The idea was intensely controversial and today Senator Eli Bebout withdrew the legislation. 

Droves of hunters, anglers and hikers turned out for anti-land transfer rallies in recent months wearing stickers that read, “Keep It Public, Wyoming!” 

Rebecca Huntington / Wyoming Public Radio

During a visit Thursday to the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the federal government should not surrender its role managing public lands. That's despite renewed efforts by several Western states to get federally-owned public lands transferred to state control.

"This is an extraordinary treasure, and it is indeed a national treasure. And I think it is incumbent upon the federal government to understand its partnership responsibility, not to abdicate it, not to give it up, not to surrender it."

Park County Commissioners have unanimously voted to give $5000 to an organization that is trying to get federal lands in state hands.

The American Lands Council claims  the federal government promised to give back public lands to newly created states.  Park County Commission Chair Bucky Hall said that Utah’s Congressman Rob Bishop is trying to make it law.

“Bishop is going to present a bill in Congress asking for the return of the lands.  They would become state lands.”

Hall says this movement is a continuation of the Sage Brush rebellion.