California Dems Push Bills Preventing Trump From Selling Off Federal Lands

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Democratic lawmakers in California are preparing legislation designed to prevent President Donald Trump from dismantling the Obama-era environmental regulations.

California Senate Leader Kevin de Leon proposed a the “Preserve California” package, a series of bills meant to freeze federal clean air, water, and endangered species laws created during President Barack Obama’s administration. The Democrat’s package would also protect federal lands in California from being sold to energy companies.

“The goals and objectives of these measures… is to do everything within our power to make sure the federal government doesn’t encroach on our far-reaching progressive policies,” de Leon said during a Thursday press conference explaining the legislation.

California Democrats hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, a Democrat, to help beat back what they fear are encroachments from the Trump administration. De Leon said he plans on using Holder as a weapon if Trump begins selling off federal lands.

“The less that we use Eric Holder, the better,” he said. “The more we use Eric Holder, that means bad things are happening towards California.”

The bill is also meant to protect portions of federalized land in the state from being divested and sold to energy producers, among other private investors.

“There are prominent members of Congress and prominent members of the Trump administration who are on the record supporting a large-scale sell off of our federal lands,” Democratic California Sen. Ben Allen, a co-author of the bill, said about Trump’s environmental policies.

He added: “Either opening them up to mineral and oil and gas exploitation or direct sales to corporations who want to use those lands for commercial gain.”

Allen and de Leon’s fears do not appear to address the substance of the Trump’s goals, at least pertaining to federal land divestment.

The former reality TV star turned commander-in-chief wants to open public lands to oil and natural gas drilling, but still believes the federal government has an obligation to share governance with states to make sure federally controlled lands are regulated more efficiently.

Trump’s Republican primary opponents, meanwhile, were strident supporters of federal land divestitures

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who ran against Trump during the Republican primaries, for instance, promised to sell federal lands back to western states like Nevada. Trump’s other opponents made similar promises at the time.

The president’s choice to run the Department of the Interior indicates his disinterest in complete federal divestment.

He nominated Ryan Zinke, a representative from Montana who opposes transferring public land ownership back to the states. Zinke resigned as a delegate to the Republican National Committee last summer, mostly because he feared the GOP would pursue federal land divestment.

The Senate will vote on Zinke’s confirmation in March.

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