Congresswoman Herrera Beutler says one thing, does another for protecting public lands

Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler seems to have become accustomed to the tried-and-true Washington, D.C., tradition of making up a new position when the old one becomes unpopular.

She recently falsely claimed that “every action I’ve taken is to better manage and increase the public’s access to their land” and that she would oppose lifting protections for monuments and parks in Washington state.

Unfortunately for Congresswoman Herrera Beutler, facts are stubborn things.  She has repeatedly voted to weaken the President’s ability to protect public lands by converting them into landscape-level national monuments under the Antiquities Act, which President Theodore Roosevelt originally used to protect the Grand Canyon among other parks.

What’s worse is that she failed to join the chorus of opposition to President Donald Trump’s unlawful decision to lift protections for 2 million acres of public lands in Utah – a decision that was broadly opposed in that state, in the congresswoman’s district, and throughout the country.

It’s time for Congresswoman Herrera Beutler to explain how she can claim to support public lands while advocating for the elimination of protections for them at the same time. I’ve personally written to the congresswoman multiple times with simple questions about her position on public lands. Instead of explaining her views on major pieces of legislation, she’s ignored the requests and failed to come clean.

Soon, Congresswoman Herrera Beutler may have to confront this very question on the floor of the United States Congress, and she won’t be able to hide when she does.

She should explain now whether she would support the misleadingly named National Monument Creation and Protection Act, a proposal to empower the president to revoke protections for millions of acres of public lands with the stroke of a pen without Congressional oversight or approval.

By the same token, she should support the permanent authorization for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which helps create new parks and public access to public land, something she has failed to do in the past.

Chris Saeger is the executive director of the Western Values Project, based in Whitefish, Montana, defends America’s public lands through research and public education in order to hold policymakers and elected leaders accountable for jeopardizing the West’s outdoor heritage.

Also published on Medium.

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