The Senate passed H.J. Res. 44, a resolution disapproving of and rolling back the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Planning 2.0 rule, by a vote of 51 to 48, March 7. The legislation previously passed the House, Feb. 8.
Passed under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), H.J. Res. 44 represents a major win for counties. The CRA provides a mechanism for Congress and President Donald Trump to abolish, with a simple majority vote in both chambers, any federal regulation finalized within the last 60 legislative days of the previous administration. It also prohibits federal agencies from reissuing the same regulation or one of a substantially similar nature in the future. H.J. Res. 44 will now be sent to President Trump’s desk, where he is expected to sign it into law.
Throughout the rulemaking process, NACo expressed concern that BLM’s Planning 2.0 rule, as written, could dilute county input into federal land management decisions and hinder local government consultation and collaboration with BLM. By rescinding the Planning 2.0 rule, H.J. Res. 44 provides another opportunity for BLM, counties and public lands stakeholders to work together to improve BLM planning regulations and ensure robust coordination with local governments.
The original rule was published on Dec. 13, 2016 and went into effect on Jan. 11. It sought to establish new processes under which the BLM would develop its Resource Management Plans (RMPs). RMPs set parameters to define approved uses and actions across the BLM’s 245 million acres of surface land and 700 million acres of subsurface minerals currently under BLM management.
NACo has been engaged throughout the Planning 2.0 process to ensure local government involvement is a key aspect of BLM’s resource management planning. After securing an extension of the initial comment period for BLM’s Planning 2.0 rule, NACo submitted comments to BLM on the proposed rule on May 19. NACo also hosted numerous webinars and forums with BLM staff and county officials to provide other opportunities for the county voice to be heard.