PLC executive director shares direction of administration pertaining to land management
During the Public Lands Council (PLC) Legislative Conference 2021 opening session March 23, PLC Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover shares a review of the executive orders issued by the Biden administration, certain agenda setting items for the administration, promises of the campaign and how the agenda might be carried out through the first year.
“We are paying close attention to legislation and those initiatives that have been a little different from Congresses in the past,” she notes. “We are, of course, also looking at legislative and executive branch overlap, where the Senate provides advice and consent for the president’s nominees for a variety of areas.”
“There has been no shortage of executive orders in this administration, as well as administrations in the past,” Glover explains. “Executive orders on day one are the most expedient way for any new president to start moving in a certain direction while still working on getting staff in place.”
While many note President Biden certainly took advantage of this executive order pen on his first day in office, there were a number of executive orders signed into action based on the process of regulatory review and freeze.
Glover shares, “Nearly every administration has gone through this regulatory freeze for the process of review. This was not unexpected, and this administration wants to take a broader view.”
Through one of the first executive orders issued, President Biden noted all the executive and administrative action from 2017 through 2020 should be reviewed. Additionally, Glover shares there was a climate-specific and environmental-specific executive order regarding how the administration plans to tackle the climate crisis.
“This is where we have seen initiatives like the 30 by 30 Program to conserve 30 percent of the lands and waters under U.S. jurisdiction by the year 2030,” she says. “This is also where the administration calls out, very directly, they want to see additional input from farmers and ranchers.”
Glover continues, “Most of this input has been gathered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), but of course we know agriculture, farmer and rancher input permeates a lot of different organizations.”
PLC will continue to monitor the direction of the White House.
Glover comments much of the national debate is happening in the legislative space, there are two bills topping the list to monitor.
“First is the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021,” she shares. “This assistance has taken a lot of time towards the end of the last Congress, and the first days of this 117th Congress.”
Through this aid, she notes, we have seen additional aid to communities, producers and individuals. Additionally, legislators have spent a lot of time debating levels of aid and where this money will be sourced. Glover adds these conversations are expected to continue long after this time and permeate other legislative priorities.
“The other important bill from a land-viewpoint is House Resolution (HR) 803 – Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act,” says Glover. “These are a collection of proposals seeking to designate several million acres across the West as wilderness.”
She explains, “This is in large part a messaging bill, but it was a chance for the House to say, ‘This is the message and position this committee and body is taking on legislative initiatives for the year.’ We know the House, particularly the Natural Resources Committee, is going to focus a lot on wilderness designations and how lands are managed across the West.”
Additionally, Glover shares this is indicative of bills likely to come out of this committee. However, she notes these bills need to be considered carefully, taking into consideration stakeholder impact and ensuring legislation provides the best outcome for landscapes.
According to Glover, the main reason a number of messaging bills have been introduced is because Congress is working to provide advice and consent on the president’s nominees.
Tom Vilsack, confirmed to reprise his role as the Secretary of Agriculture, has been active and engaged with PLC so far.
“We are looking forward to having conversations with him because the dynamic has changed since he was last Secretary of Agriculture,” Glover adds. “We have a greater need for robust forest management and a greater need for flexibility for grazing to be a solution to all these resource issues.”
Former Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) was recently sworn in as Secretary of the Interior, and Katherine Tai was confirmed March 18 as U.S. Trade Representative.
“This is just the top tier of cabinet-level nominees, and we still have the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service directors, as well as many other directors of agency-level positions still to be considered and confirmed by the Senate,” Glover shares. “This is just action in the last 62 days, and this confirmation space will continue.”
Glover adds the legislative timeline has been complicated by a number of procedural problems, causing issues in bipartisanship and these procedural dynamics will need to be worked out by the House and Senate. Additionally, the question of climate will be the single issue permating every action this administration takes.
As appropriations come first, Glover shares PLC remains committed to involvement in this process. According to Glover, continued supplemental funding for wild horse and burro programs is included.
“PLC helped to secure funding in 2020-21, and is asking for more additional funding this year to maintain external off-range holding facilities, support more aggressive emergency gathers and smart use of fertility control to get Herd Management Areas down to appropriate management levels,” she explains. “We will also continue to support the sage grouse provisions in appropriations that allow and encourage conservation.”
Glover continues, “PLC has the same priorities as always – make sure grazing can be used as a tool for the good of the economy, for producers’ operations, for resource objectives and to meet social and cultural objectives.”
Averi Hales is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.