Senate Votes to Overturn Bureau of Land Management Rule on Land Use Planning

Arlington, VA | March 07, 2017

The U.S. Senate today voted to overturn a recent Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rule, known as the Planning 2.0 rule, under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The rule was intended to make its land use planning more accessible to the public, more responsive to the changing conditions on the public lands, and more efficient. The U.S. House of Representatives also voted last month to overturn the rule.

The Nature Conservancy’s global Managing Director for Public Policy Lynn Scarlett said:

“We are disappointed that Congress invalidated BLM’s ‘Planning 2.0’ rule, and concerned about the effect this may have on planning and management of BLM lands. The rule represented years of work and public input, and was the first major revision to the BLM’s planning process in over 30 years. It was the product of intensive collaboration over two and a half years, including more than 6,000 public comments. It was more inclusive, incorporated current technology, science, and land management practices and would have delivered more efficient and effective decision-making.

“While no rule is perfect, the Congressional Review Act was the wrong tool to address concerns with it. Congress could have worked with the BLM to address any concerns, instead of discarding the entire rule. It is unclear how the agency can revise its planning regulations in the future, because the CRA prohibits an agency from issuing a new rule that is ‘substantially the same’ as the rule that was overturned. The BLM must now operate under the cloud of potential legal challenges to future efforts to modernize their planning approach.

“BLM faces many challenging conservation issues, including more frequent catastrophic wildfires, increasing demand for renewable energy, invasive species, and conserving vital wildlife habitat at relevant scales. Congress has made their task of tackling these tough issues more difficult by taking away their ability to utilize modern land management tools.”

The Nature Conservancy has worked with the BLM on a range of issues, including greater sage grouse conservation, vegetation management, fire and invasive species management, terrestrial and aquatic habitat restoration, and renewable energy planning.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

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Heather Layman