TEASING OUT THE BIAS IN THE ‘ECONOMIC ANALYSIS’ BILL…
Going into this legislative session the Wyoming Outdoor Council had several priorities.
Perhaps at the top of our list of concerns was Wyoming Senate File 13, called Economic Analysis — a bill sponsored by the Joint Interim Agriculture Committee and Sen. Eli Bebout.
The original version of the bill can be seen here.
As originally worded, the bill would have tasked the State Division of Economic Analysis with determining the “optimum use” for all land in the state (private, state and federal).
The proposed modeling process would have created a bias towards finding so-called optimum uses for Wyoming lands that would almost always have involved resource development and extraction. In other words, the determined “optimum use” would likely never be open space, important wildlife habitat, historical preservation, ecotourism, iconic view-sheds or conservation.
The bill also had the potential to morph into last year’s ill-conceived landfill “risk management” bill — or set the stage for that bill to be reintroduced next year.
We worked with other concerned legislators and citizens to nearly defeat “Economic Analysis” on the first day of this year’s session, and came close again on its second and third readings in the Senate — forcing some amendments.
Since then we have worked to reign in its scope, eliminate references to private land and ensure that the economic model used would be a nationally recognized tool without a predetermined bias towards mineral extraction and development.
We and our partners have, thus far, been successful on all counts.
FINISHING THE JOB
During this, the last week of the 2010 session we are going to continue to work hard to make sure the bill is not amended beyond the version that is now on the House floor.
We are also working to include language in the bill that will require governmental agencies (primarily county commissions) who use the economic data to insist that if they use it in meetings with the federal Bureau of Land Management and/or U.S. Forest Service that those meetings be open to the public and not considered “closed cooperator” meetings.
We have the support of Gov. Dave Freudenthal on this key amendment, but its success in the legislative body is far from certain.
The bill will also be subject to a legislative budget reconciliation process since the versions coming out of the Senate and House have different funding levels.
If this bill is amended in ways that would put Wyoming’s environment and quality of life at risk, we will work to kill it during that reconciliation process.
Contact: Richard Garrett, Jr., energy and legislative advocate, Wyoming Outdoor Council, 307-332-7031 x18; 307-438-9516; firstname.lastname@example.org.