Salazar Circumvents Congress

Marita Noon
Issue CCLXXII - January 1, 2011
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The 111th congress ended Wednesday evening, December 22 “Sine Die”—Latin, to signal the last act of the Congressional session when it ends for the year. The last few weeks have been called the “most productive lame-duck session in recent memory.” Landmark legislation such as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the START Treaty were passed. But one item on the "progressive" wish-list didn’t get close to Obama’s desk: The Omnibus Lands Bill—which would have accelerated the feds' land-grab mode and locked up extensive areas.


Despite the Sine Die proclamation, the administration has not ended its year.


On December 23, the day after the end of the 111th Congress, when most people were preparing to party, the Department of the Interior issued a new order. Secretarial Order (SO) 3310 is said to “restore balance” to the management of public lands. The press release announced, “Salazar, Abby Restores Protection for America’s Wild Lands”—a reaction to Congress’ failure to pass the Omnibus Lands Bill.


SO 3310 creates a new designation: “Wild Lands.” Previously, it took an act of Congress to declare a “wilderness area.” While that still holds, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is now able to circumvent Congress—much as the Environmental Protection Agency has done with CO2 and the Food and Drug Administration has done with accelerated drug approval. “Wild Lands” is a new designation with similar regulations and restrictions as “wilderness areas.” But, it does not require Congressional approval.


Secretary Salazar stated, “The protection of wild lands is important to the American people and should therefore be a high priority in BLM’s management.”


Poll after poll shows that what is important to Americans is job growth and economic stability. Yet, Salazar has enacted an unconstitutional policy that will discourage wealth creation and expand the federal government.


It is widely known that states that are rich in resources such as North Dakota, Oklahoma, Alaska, Texas, and West Virginia have lower unemployment and increasing wages. With America’s top concerns—jobs, the economy, and the deficit, the data should be a formula for the way forward: tap our resources. We have free money sitting in the soil. Instead we are borrowing from China, sending money to the Middle East and, when no one is looking, putting policies in place that lock up our lands.


SO 3310 will, admittedly, create jobs—albeit federal-government jobs. It has all kinds of new requirements that will mean more manpower to manage them. Already we have “wilderness study areas” that have not moved to Congress for approval because agencies say they are lacking the staff and funding to do the “study.” Additionally SO 3310 will increase federal-government control. And, they think no one is looking.


If Secretary Salazar is so fond of the wilderness, perhaps we need to send him there. The motto could be “Salazar: Not Washington, Wilderness.” But the message would be: “Fire Salazar!”


It is time to hold Obama accountable for his appointments.

Marita Noon is the Executive Director of Energy Makes America Great Inc., the advocacy arm of CARE (Citizens' Alliance for Responsible Energy), the New Mexico nonprofit organization advocating for citizens’ right to energy that is abundant, available, and affordable. CARE works on energy issues on state, regional, and nationwide levels. Find out more at  

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