Would you want to turn control of the Daniel Boone National Forest over to the state of Kentucky for decisions on oil and gas drilling, and coal mining? Or the Hoosier National Forest? Mitt Romney would.
There are clear differences between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney on many fronts, including the environment.
On the environment, one area stands out: public lands.
Our public lands are a birthright, held in trust for each one of us and managed by a set of laws that were worked out through compromise by Congress and various presidential administrations going back generations.
They provide places for us to hike, ride our mountain bikes, horses, camp, hunt and fish. Many are managed for multiple uses, and they also allow for cattle grazing, timber harvesting, oil and gas development, mining and skiing.
Romney, however, has said he would change all this, putting states in control of lands now under the stewardship of such agencies as the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, who are charged with making sure all Americans have a say in their management. Often this gets reported simply as an expansion of oil and gas development on public lands, a simplification that fails to acknowledge just how radical of a shift in public policy it would be to turn over federal lands to state control.
From a Romney white paper:
States will be empowered to establish processes to oversee the development and production of all forms of energy on federal lands within their borders, excluding only lands specially designated off-limits;
• State regulatory processes and permitting programs for all forms of energy development will be deemed to satisfy all requirements of federal law;
• Federal agencies will certify state processes as adequate, according to established criteria that are sufficiently broad, to afford the states maximum flexibility to ascertain what is