Hageman Introduces Legislation To Block Controversial BLM Rock Springs Plan

In a bid to bring Congress into the fray over the Bureau of Land Management’s controversial draft Rock Springs Management Plan, Rep. Harriet Hagman has introduced a bill to block it.

Mark Heinz

October 27, 20235 min read

Red Desert and Hageman 10 27 23

Claiming that the Bureau of Land Management’s controversial draft Rock Springs Resource Management Plan is part of a “war on the West,” Wyoming Republican U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman has introduced a bill to block it.

“The Biden administration is continuing to wage war on the West, this time by creating a draft plan that threatens to undermine the economic security of our communities and our very way of life,” Hageman said in a Friday statement.

“Each of the plan’s land management ‘alternatives’ will harm key sectors of the local economy, either by severely restricting recreational activity, inhibiting mining and drilling activities or locking Americans out of their public lands entirely,” she said.

Says It’s Bad For Wyoming

She introduced a bill that would block the implementation of the BLM’s draft resource management plan for millions of acres managed out of the agency’s Rock Springs field office.

Hageman said the RMP threatens Wyoming’s recreation and energy industries.  

“If approved, the Rock Springs RMP would block the use of 2.5 million acres of land for pipelines, power lines and roads and remove 1.8 million acres from recreation and economic development activities,” according to the statement from Hageman’s office. “By preventing the implementation of this draft plan and any alternatives proposed, the BLM will be forced to develop a new draft RMP in consultation with state and local stakeholders.”

Hagman called the BLM’s preferred Alternative B the “greatest of evils.”

“It’s alarming that the BLM would support the greatest of the evils by choosing Alternative B, which promises to impose the most severe injury possible to our state, placing massive restrictions around what Wyomingites can and cannot do on millions of acres,” she said.

The aim of Hagman’s bill is to force the BLM back to the drawing board, according to Hageman’s office.

“By preventing the implementation of this draft plan and any alternatives proposed, the BLM will be forced to develop a new draft RMP in consultation with state and local stakeholders,” the statement reads.

‘We Need All The Help We Can Get’

Reacting to the news Friday, Sweetwater County Commissioner Taylor Jones told Cowboy State Daily that he appreciates Hageman’s support. Much of the land in the plan is in Sweetwater County in southwest Wyoming.

“I certainly appreciate and applaud any support we get from our delegation in Washington, D.C., and Representative Hageman for what she’s trying to do,” he said. “We need all the help we can get.”

He said that he agrees with the bill’s goal of starting the process over and encouraging the BLM to “sit down and have reasonable conversations with stakeholders” in Sweetwater County and the rest of Wyoming.

“Any help we can get is greatly appreciated. I don’t know whether or not her (Hageman’s) actions will bear fruit, but I certainly hope so,” Jones said.

He added that Sweetwater County Land Use Director Eric Bingham combed through the draft RMP and calculated its potential impacts on the county’s revenue.

The results don’t look good, Jones said.

The county’s annual total oil and gas tax revenues could shrink from $16.9 million to $4.3 million, he said. Revenue for local school districts could shrink from $8.5 million to about $2.9 million, and the county government’s share is estimated to drop from $2.9 million to $736,000.

Comments Still Vital

Regarding Hageman’s statement and claims, BLM officials doesn’t comment on pending legislation, BLM Deputy State Director of Communications Brad Purdy told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.

“We have to be asked by a (congressional) committee to come testify to discuss pending legislation,” he said.

Any such call would probably go to officials from the BLM’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, he said.

Meanwhile, he stressed the importance of public comments regarding the RMP. The draft document and instructions on filing comments can be found online.

Comments can make a huge difference, Purdy said.

“We are still in the draft phase. We are still right in the middle of public comments. I think a lot of people might roll their eyes and say, ‘The BLM isn’t going to pay attention to my comment,’ but we will,” Purdy said. “I just want to stress how important the public comment period is for the people of Sweetwater County and the Rock Springs area. This is the time to file comments.”

He added that while the draft’s Alternatives A and B have had the most attention, people filing comments shouldn’t hesitate to make their cases for Alternatives C and D.  

Alternative A proposes leaving things as they are. Alternative B leans heavily toward conservation. Alternative C skews the other way toward as much energy development and other heavy uses as possible. Alternative D would strike a balance between the extremes.

And now there’s more time to consider all the alternatives.

After a push from Gov. Mark Gordon and others, the BLM recently agreed to extend the deadline for comments from Nov. 16 until Jan. 17, 2024.

Purdy said he and other BLM officials were pleased to see the deadline extended.

“I think there’s a recognition here at the BLM — at all levels, not just here in Wyoming — that it (the draft RMP) is a big document,” he said. “So, let’s take or time and let people look at it in depth.”

Mark Heinz can be reached at mark@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter