Congressional Republicans push to sell federal land

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Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz Thursday introduced a bill to sell off government land for which, he says, the federal government really has no use. On the Senate side, Republicans Mike Lee of Utah and John McCain of Arizona have plans to introduce similar legislation.

“While there are national treasures worthy of federal protection, there are lands that should be returned to private ownership,” said Chaffetz. “If the land serves no public purpose, and is ‘identified for disposal’ let’s return it to private ownership.”

According to a 1997 Interior Department report, there are 3.3 million acres of land available to be sold to to non-federal entities. Chaffetz bill, HR 1126, the Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act, would allow for the sale of this land, which amounts to less than 1 percent of all federal land.

Selling the land will help to raise money for the cash-strapped government, according to Lee.

“It’s been more than a decade since the land was deemed suitable for disposal and there is no critical need for the federal government to hold on to it,” said Lee. “The sale of the land alone could generate more than a $1 billion, and then there is the economic benefit of putting the land to good use. That could mean jobs, future growth, and better prosperity for the surrounding areas. It’s good for the state of Utah and I am happy to work with Representative Chaffetz in supporting the move.”

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