Gov. Kristi Noem 'offended' over proposed public lands rule

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Gov. Kristi Noem testified on Capitol Hill Thursday in favor of Congress preventing the Bureau of Land Management from enforcing a new proposed rule concerning conservation efforts on public lands.

Governor Kristi Noem signs HB 1090 into law on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at C&B Operations in Mitchell.
Governor Kristi Noem signs HB 1090 into law on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at C&B Operations in Mitchell.

The proposed rule would apply land health standards to BLM-managed lands, clarify conservation as a use and revise existing regulations to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976. An overarching framework for BLM programs to promote ecosystem resilience on public lands would also be added.

The second-term Republican governor, joined by Wyoming Republican Governor Mark Gordon, told the House Natural Resources Committee the proposed rule would devastate public land management.

“This rule is just one of many that highlights an example of an overreaching, unelected bureaucracy attempting to perpetuate radical environmental policies that ignore common sense,” Noem said. “They ignore stewardship practices that have been practiced on our land for generations.”

Noem and five other governors, including Gordon, as well as governors from Utah, Idaho, Nevada and Montana sent a letter to Deb Haaland, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Wednesday opposing the rule change and called for the BLM to work more closely with states, local governments and stakeholders on a rule that fits within the current land management framework.

More: Kristi Noem, Republican governors oppose federal rule to expand protections for public lands

“We have good relationships with our local BLM offices because those people actually do live there and they do interact with people that are out there working on stewardship practices on the land,” Noem told the House committee Thursday.

Noem took issue with the proposed use of conservation leases, which would allow entities to lease the land for up to 10 years to support “durable protection and restoration efforts to build and maintain the resilience of public lands,” according to the proposed rules.

Noem said the lease could allow entities to block the public from accessing public lands used for outdoor recreation or could even block private landowners from accessing their land.

“That’s a reality that we see out there on the ground that has the potential if this rule goes forward,” she said.

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Noem also warned that the proposed rule could negatively impact the South Dakota economy and expressed her frustration, saying she was “offended” when reading the rule since there was no economic analysis on the impact on the state or scientific analysis on how this would impact land done on the part of the BLM.

“There will be business owners, small businesses, in my state that will be bankrupt if this proposed rule goes into place,” she said. “They will have no land for their cattle, nowhere to graze them. They will be out of business. Their cattle are their manufacturing plants. They’re their future and it will be gone.”

Both governors echoed their frustration that BLM did not hold listening sessions in either South Dakota or Wyoming, areas that they believed would be negatively impacted. Noem encouraged the House members to read the written comments sent in opposing the rule change.

“In my world, everybody matters,” she said. “Doesn’t matter if you’re big or small or important or not important. You should listen to them, especially if they’re making a living off the land.”

South Dakota's congressional delegation, made up of Republicans Sen. John Thune, Sen. Mike Rounds and Rep. Dusty Johnson, also oppose the rule change and sent their own letter to Haaland Thursday.

“The framework for conservation leases in the proposal could threaten responsible uses of the land by allowing the BLM to limit any use of leased land that is deemed ‘inconsistent’ with the framework," they wrote. "This new process has the potential to lock away land for more than a decade, keeping out hunters, livestock owners who graze on public lands, and American taxpayers and tourists who want to enjoy the great outdoors."

The public comment window on the proposed rule ends June 20. Comments can be submitted online or mailed to U.S. Department of the Interior, Director (630), Bureau of Land Management, 1849 C St. NW, Room 5646, Washington, DC 20240, Attention: 1004–AE92.

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Gov. Noem testifies on Capitol Hill against proposed public lands rule