Daily GPI / Regulatory

Senate Votes to Scrap BLM's 'Planning 2.0' Rule; Bill Heads to Trump's Desk

The Senate passed a bill Tuesday calling for Congressional disapproval of a rule by the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to revise its resource management planning process. The bill will now head to President Trump's desk for his signature.

HJ Res. 44 passed on a 51-48 vote, along partisan lines. The resolution, introduced by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) in late January, disapproves of BLM's rule, also known as Planning Rule 2.0. The resolution passed the House on a 234-186 vote on Feb. 7.

The oil and gas industry and its allies, including the Western Energy Alliance, opposed the rule on the grounds that it would make planning more difficult and the process more time-consuming.

Last year, BLM conceded that while Planning 2.0 would not directly affect the decisions it makes, the rule could still impact the oil and gas industry. An economist with BLM estimated that the annual cost to industry would be less than $100 million and not adversely affect "the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or state, local or tribal governments or communities."

Shortly before the vote, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, urged her colleagues to support the bill.

"The reason why so many members of the House and the Senate want to overturn BLM's Planning 2.0 rule is pretty simple," Murkowski said. "We know what it means for our western states. We don't like the impact that it will have, and neither do a wide variety of elected officials and stakeholders back home."

Murkowski added that the Alaska Chamber of Commerce, which supports the bill, believes that BLM's planning process "has grown to be substantially lengthier, more confusing and burdensome for stakeholders to engage in."

But Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, called Planning 2.0 a "straightforward" and "common sense" rule, and lobbied for the bill's defeat.

"There is nothing in this rule that erodes or takes away states' and local governments' planning process, and the decision making that they do," Cantwell said.

Under Planning 2.0, BLM proposed establishing new opportunities for early public involvement in the planning process, and giving the public opportunities to submit data and review preliminary versions of key documents used in the bureau's planning process. It has also proposed requiring a planning assessment before developing a land use plan. Specifically, the rule would have amended the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976.

Planning 2.0 is one of 13 regulations enacted during the Obama administration that Republicans in Congress have targeted for repeal using the Congressional Review Act.

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