Republicans have introduced a bill that would make it easier than ever to reassign federal land to the states. Financially strapped states, however, would not be able to afford the upkeep required for maintaining vast public lands, and would be forced to sell it to corporations for development, mining and other sources of private profit. The Grand Canyon, for example, holds uranium and copper, and could become off-limits to tourists if this bill passes and allows this American treasure to fall into the hands of mining companies. The resource-rich Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and approximately 60% of the land in Alaska could also go on the chopping block, with lasting and potentially devastating environmental repercussions.
According to the Outdoor Alliance, federal land is the second largest revenue generator after taxes, so why is a party that prides itself on being fiscally conservative proposing legislation that is so fiscally irresponsible? The only logical conclusion is that the GOP values the profits of private corporations more than it values the public good. A 2016 survey by the National Park Foundation (NPF) found that 95% of Americans believe National Parks should be protected, and 80% were willing to pay higher taxes for this purpose. The voice of the many is clearly being drowned by the voice of the corporate money.
The Trump administration has not outlined its position on federal land, but the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016 could prevent the proposed land transfers to states. The act requires the Department of Commerce to include revenue generated from these lands in the GDP.
Whatever happens, by proposing this bill, the GOP has demonstrated that it is not genuinely invested in this county and its people. It is invested in the interests of private corporations at the expense of citizens, the ecosystem and the planet. Republicans have once again proven that they are not fighting for the greater good, but rather for the greater gold.