|The recent Cliven Bundy debacle in Nevada put a national spotlight on the long-running, and long-failing, effort by right-wing Western legislators to seize federal public lands and either turn them over to the states or sell them to the highest bidder.
While the renewal of this so-called “Sagebrush Rebellion” has thus far been carried out with limited resources by part-time legislators like State Rep. Ken Ivory (R-UT), new research shows that its leaders are now using taxpayer money from at least 42 counties in nine Western states to advance an aggressive and coordinated campaign to seize America’s public lands and national forests for drilling, mining, and logging.
According to a ThinkProgress analysis, the American Lands Council (ALC) — an organization created to help states to claim ownership of federal lands — has collected contributions of taxpayer money from government officials in 18 counties in Utah, 10 counties in Nevada, four counties in Washington, three counties in Arizona, two counties in Oregon, two counties in New Mexico, and one county in Colorado, Idaho, and Wyoming. In total, county-level elected officials have already paid the ALC more than $200,000 in taxpayer money. A list of these counties and their “membership levels” can be seen on the ALC website.
Since its inception in 2012, the ALC has been working with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative front group backed by the oil and gas industry and billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, to pass state-level legislation demanding that the federal government turn over federally owned national forests and public lands to Western states. So far, Utah is the only state to have signed a law calling for the seizure of federal lands, but Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana have passed bills to study the idea and further action is expected in statehouses during 2015 legislative sessions.
Legal experts report that Utah’s law, and similar bills being advanced by ALC and ALEC are in clear violation of Article IV of the Constitution, are in conflict with the laws that established Western states, and would be overturned if ever tested in federal court. […]
ALC’s use of county funds adds to the growing cost to taxpayers of the right-wing land seizure movement. The state of Utah, for example, has already spent more than $500,000 to study a takeover of federal land and has set aside an additional $3 million for legal fees to fight the federal government in court. In Idaho, when the Attorney General’s office questioned the legality of seizing federal lands, legislators in the state spent more than$20,000 on private counsel. In Nevada, a federal land seizure study cost taxpayers more than $66,000, while a special task force to study the issue in Wyoming cost taxpayers$30,000.
In addition to using taxpayer funds to advance unconstitutional bills to seize federal lands, the ALC also relies on financial support from the mining industry and fossil fuel interest groups. Americans for Prosperity, for example—another group financed by the Koch brothers—is listed as a “Bronze Member” of ALC. Mesa Exploration, a mining company whose recent proposal to build a potash mine in an area that the Donner Party crossed in 1846 was recently nixed by federal land managers, is also listed as a “Bronze Member” on ALC’s website.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2011— Think Big: Real family values:
|Americans love to talk about family values. That is to say, they love to express outrage—at Janet Jackson's exposed breast; at a politician's adulterous indiscretions; at the sexual orientation of their children's favorite underwater sponge—and slap a "family values" label on their outrage.
While "family values" makes for a convenient bumper sticker slogan for politicians running on a platform of discrimination, the reality is that our nation's domestic policies demonstrate that, in fact, we don't really value families at all. Those who claim to advocate for family values are far more concerned with narrowly defining what constitutes a family than with promoting policies that support and strengthen existing families. Relatively few governmental programs exist to assist families and those that do are laughably underfunded and restricted, and under constant attack from the very people who feign outrage at faux issues.
We could do this. Other countries around the world that have claimed an interest in helping families have invested resources in effective programs rather than propaganda. From family planning to family leave to subsidized health care and education, there are policies that do work. Unfortunately, our "family values" debate in this country dismisses such policies as socialism and sinfulness. So instead of investing in what works, our resources are diverted to propaganda that doesn't.
On today's Kagro in the Morning show: an underreported detail from a recent shooting. Did the hero have a near miss? Greg Dworkin collected stories making the case that McCain is out of touch & no one cares what he says. Same with Cheney, and even Fox knows it. Iraq in disarray: why won't Obama lead & fix it already? Speaking of which, Norm Ornstein addresses polarization. Armando opines on DC football, Iraq, upcoming SCOTUS decisions, and newspapers plan a new online comment system. (Ours.) NYT ends The Gun Report, and there's a labor backstory. But Times editors say it was just getting boring or something. All the more reason for GunFAIL to continue.