Montana Politics

Representative Rehberg Loves Real Federal Land Grabs, Hates Imaginary Ones

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Representative Rehberg, perhaps stung by criticism all over the state, from all political quarters, about his support for a massive federal land grab of our Northern border with Canada, sent out yet another e-mail flogging the dead horse of his “Montana Land Sovereignty Act,” a bill designed to protect Montana from nothing more than his paranoid fears.

Rehberg’s political team writes, on your dime:

I’ve introduced the Montana Land Sovereignty Act (H.R. 845) in the House to make sure that Montanans will always have a seat at the table when it comes to new designations of National Monuments in our state.

There is no threat of a new monument designation in Montana, as Rehberg has been told repeatedly. He’s simply using the issue, perhaps to deflect from his support for a real threat to Montana’s land management.

This week, Rehberg voted for HR 1505, a bill that, according to Blaine County Commissioner Vic Miller, is a federal land grab which will deny the public input on critical land management questions:

And this Rehberg-sponsored bill exempts these activities from court review. Now that’s what you call a federal land grab. No wonder the lawmakers behind this bill are quietly trying to push it through Congress.

If they get their way, the federal government would have incredible power to stop timber sales on Forest Service land. DHS could prevent us from snowmobiling or fishing or hunting in our forests. The Department could prevent grazing on the C.M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. Bureaucrats could kick all the cattle off of BLM land. It would be able to shut down Glacier National Park indefinitely.

The Department of Homeland Security would also have the right to ignore all tribal protections for sacred sites. Why? The laws protecting these sites could be ignored.

I’m not the only one concerned about the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act. Constitutional scholar John Leshy says the act "is the most breathtakingly extreme legislative proposal" he has ever seen because "it would effectively arm 200,000 Department of Homeland Security employees and their contractors with unilateral power to do what they want, without any advance notice, check or process, over vast areas of federal land."

According to Jane Danowitz of the Pew Environment Group, the bill would be a massive expansion of federal power:

“The bill’s reach is unprecedented,” Danowitz said. “It would allow a single federal agency [Homeland Security] the authority to waive clean air and water laws, as well as those that protect parks and other public lands. It would leave Congress and the public without a voice, even though at stake are hundreds of popular destinations including Glacier.”

No public voice over Glacier Park, grazing, road construction? That doesn’t sound like someone defending Montana values to me. Perhaps that’s way Representative Rehberg is too busy to meet with his constituents these days.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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