Critics say draft resource management plans put forward by the Bureau of Land Management are slated to take more than 6 million acres off the table in Western states for potential energy extraction and also put new restrictions on infrastructure such as transmission lines and roads.

“Colorado’s Western Slope used to have a booming energy economy,” said Rep. Lauren Boebert , R-Colo. “Unfortunately, we have been regulated into poverty by bad Democratic policies.”

Boebert spoke Wednesday before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands where there were numerous bills aimed at thwarting the draft plans, as well as legislation to put restrictions on the presidential use of the Antiquities Act.

Boebert said a once thriving energy industry in her area is just a whisper of itself.

“Roughnecks used to come into my restaurant,” she said. “I knew I was having a good day when I would find mud on the floor because of their boots .”

She said they have all been forced out of the area and a region that used to host 112 drilling rigs is now down to four.

She blamed “extremist” policies that are continuing with draft resource management plans that would remove 1.6 million acres from potential energy extraction in her area.

“The consequences will be felt far beyond the state of Colorado,” she said. “It is not just economics. It is a threat to our nation’s energy independence and security.”

But her Democratic colleague, Rep. Joe Neguse from Colorado, reiterated that the plans are just in draft form, have been years in the making and have been the subject of public debate, input and scrutiny.

“There’s a lot of misinformation,” he countered.

Rep. Harriet Hageman, R-Wyo., dismissed Neguse’s assertions.

“In typical fashion, the federal government has chosen the very alternative that has the most community opposition and would do the most damage. In total, under the preferred alternative about 2.5 million acres of land would not be available for new rights of way. This would be an increase of more than 480% placed to off limits for such things as powerlines pipelines and maintaining roads,” she said, pointing to the draft proposal in the Rock Springs area.

“Most disheartening about this (plan) is the fact that it ignored stakeholder input over the past 12 years. The administration continues to insert itself into every community in America under the guise of claiming to do good only to outright ignore the community’s needs and to pursue bad policies and the pursuit of political goals for the administration — political goals for this administration that are not shared by Wyoming.”

Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance representing hundreds of independent oil and gas producers in the West, said the Wyoming plan in the Rock Springs area alone removes 59% of the mineral estate in a region heavily dependent on energy extraction.

Overall, the BLM’s resource management plans propose to take 6.1 million acres off the table for potential energy development in four states, Sgamma said.

“And although they are not yet finalized, we know how well BLM listens during the public comment process,” she said.

‘No good deed goes unpunished’: Why Utah and other states fear BLM rule

The committee also heard testimony on a measure that would invoke congressional oversight of the use of the Antiquities Act by U.S. presidents to establish national monuments.

The legislation by Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, would require the approval of U.S. Congress within six months of a monument’s establishment or by the last day of the congressional members in place during the time of the designation or reservation.

“The minority party would like you to believe that the country hasn’t changed in over 100 years. This act has never been updated since 1906. And I think that we can all agree that the United States has drastically changed and progressed since Teddy Roosevelt was president,” Miller-Meeks said.

Roosevelt got the Antiquities Act passed and used it 18 times to designate 1.8 million acres of national monuments, she said. President Barack Obama exercised his presidential authority 37 times to create 553.6 million acres of new monuments.

“Presidents, regardless of what party, have repeatedly flouted the rule of law, and usurped the powers of Congress to arbitrarily block off millions of acres of land,” she asserted.

What’s planned for Bears Ears National Monument?

Neguse confidently predicted the legislation would fail as have other attempts over the years to gut or nullify the law.

There was testimony, too, from Michelle McConkie, director of Utah’s School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, about the consequences of monument designations on school trust land parcels left stranded within the boundaries.

Although there was an effort to trade out those parcels amid negotiations with the federal government, those talks ultimately devolved.

In the interim, the lack of access has thwarted any attempt by the administration to develop the lands for the financial benefit of school children, she said.

Utah resolution bowing out of Bears Ears’ trust lands issue advances
Utah says ‘I don’t think so’ to federal land exchange at Bears Ears