When we sing “America the Beautiful” we are reminded of the magnificence of this great land, truly blessed by God in its grandeur. Just recently I flew out to Montrose, Colorado and the view from the flight from Denver was simply breathtaking. Last December we spent five days in Steamboat Springs and got caught in a snowstorm — what a nice Christmas feeling.
But it pains me to know that most of the lands in the western United States are controlled by the federal government. Does that bother you at all?
It’s a point that was brought home to me by the Montrose County Sheriff during my visit. My former colleague Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) has taken up this fight, as well as other state legislators.
I went back and did some research and wanted to share with you the vast federal government grab in western American states.
According to a Newsmax report from this past April after the Cliven Bundy standoff, “Western lawmakers are seeking ways to take control of the vast amount of federally managed land in their states. “What is really driving the frustration now out West is that we know there are enormous natural resources on these lands, and with the federal ownership, it is the government bureaucrats — who are not without a political agenda — who are making the decisions on how to extract,” said Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research. More than 50 lawmakers from nine Western states gathered for a summit in Utah last April, where an estimated 67 percent of the land is owned by the federal government and which has twice passed provisions seeking to reduce the reach of Washington’s control over that property.”
I found it shocking that almost 70 percent of the land of a sovereign state in America is controlled by the federal government. But then I did a bit more philosophical digging and found something even more disturbing.
From The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friederich Engels, the number one tenet of the manifesto states, “Abolition of private property in land and application of all rents of land to public purpose.” And consider the richness of resources on those lands that could spur on economic growth in these states. We know of the Bakken oil field discovery in North Dakota and what that has meant for job opportunities and the economy there — how many other states out west could realize the same economic boom?
As Newsmax put it, “the main reason the federal government offers for owning the large tracts is for the purpose of preservation and protection. On top of that, the lands are home to some of America’s most abundant natural resources, including oil, gas, and coal, and are essential for local economies that depend on mining, ranching, and lumber. Currently, these federal lands cost taxpayers around $8 billion a year.”
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) reported in its 2012 “Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data” study that the federal government owns and manages nearly 640 million acres, or nearly 30 percent of the land in the United States, mostly in the West and Alaska. For example, 62 percent of Alaska is federally owned, as well as 62 percent of Idaho. More than 81 percent of Nevada is managed by federal authorities; 48 percent of California; 35 percent of New Mexico; 53 percent of Oregon; 29 percent of Washington; and just over 48 percent of Wyoming. The CRS found that of the 640 million acres owned by the federal government, 609 million were managed among four agencies, all with environmental missions: the BLM, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the Department of the Interior.
I think the $8 billion cost to the American taxpayer is a low-ball number — especially considering the budgets of the four government agencies involved. And we all know the Environmental Protection Agency has a part in this, declaring more “endangered species” which cordons off even more land access – which we reported here.
And don’t forget that little Obama administration political stunt over not getting his “sequestration way” and closing many National Parks by the federal government — and the costs to the states of that.
“Federal policy for the nation’s first 150 years was for the federal government to dispose of lands it acquired by handing it back to states, businesses, or individuals,” Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute, told Newsmax. “Federalism is the fundamental structure of the Constitution. The states should be the ‘laboratories of democracy.’ They should each innovate with their own land governance structures. If we don’t absolutely need the federal government involved with something, then it shouldn’t be,” Edwards said.
Now don’t think these progressive socialists aren’t going to allow these western states safe passage on this issue. Newsmax says t”he Center for American Progress, a liberal policy group, wrote that in the last year, “seven Western states — Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Idaho — have passed, introduced, or explored legislation demanding that the federal government turn over millions of acres of federal public lands to the states.” The CAP calls the legislative efforts a “losing battle” and little more than “political grandstanding,” The Washington Post reported.”
Always remember that any opposition to expanding government control will meet typical progressive socialist taunting as “political grandstanding.” That whole concept of “federalism” is lost on them.
Some of you may read this and say, so what? Well if progressive socialists control the major urban centers and are gaining greater control of the expansive western lands — where will freedom ring? Yes, I do believe in Federalism and there is an inherent danger in the federal government owning large portions of a state. Do you believe the same?
It’s one of the simple tests between a progressive socialist and a constitutional conservative.