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Murkowski, Young join Trump for signing of BLM rule repeal

WASHINGTON — Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young joined President Donald Trump Monday as he signed a resolution revoking an Obama-era Bureau of Land Management regulation.

The rule, known as BLM Planning 2.0, redesigned the agency's planning regulations, including how the agency takes public input. Opponents say that the rule went too far and gave the federal government too much power. Supporters say it was intended to give locals input over powerful industries and use new data and technologies to make decisions about drilling, mining and logging on public lands.

Murkowski and Young were original sponsors and co-sponsors of the Congressional Review Act resolution to revoke the regulation the Obama administration issued in December. The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to revoke executive regulations finalized in the past 60 legislative work days, by a simple majority vote.

Since Congress used the Congressional Review Act to revoke the rule, BLM is prohibited from establishing a new rule that is at all similar, meaning previous planning rules will stay in place, likely for years to come.

Trump signed the resolution with Murkowski, Young and other state and local lawmakers gathered around a small desk in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. He signed three other resolutions at the same time.

"This was a lot of work by a lot of people to get this done," the president said, according to a pool report. "It will lead to a lot more jobs for a lot more people."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell previously noted that the planning process allowed led to blocking access to natural gas reserves on BLM land in Washington state.

"If left intact, this rule would have harmed grazing, timber, energy development, mineral production, and even recreation on federal lands," Murkowski said when the Senate passed the bill earlier this month.

Undoing the regulation would ensure that "western stakeholders will no longer be relegated to the sidelines, and once again be able to ensure that decisions are being made locally — not thousands of miles away at BLM headquarters," Murkowski said.

Murkowski argued on the Senate floor that the rule weakened local control by giving state and local governments the same status as any other member of the public.

Young, said in an interview Monday night that the Obama administration was too eager to assert control over lands from Washington, D.C. The "Planning 2.0" rule "takes planning from local officials," Young said. "I'm saying, 'nu-uh — we're not running these planning discussions from Washington, D.C."

"I'm excited about this. It's a small bill but it's a bill to me that means great importance. And I hope BLM wakes up to the fact that they're not gonna walk over Alaska any more," Young said.

Young, who just entered his 44th year in the House of Representatives, said this was his first visit to the White House with its current resident.

Trump "seemed to be in a good mood. I was impressed," Young said.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke receives a pen after U.S. President Donald Trump signed H.J. Res. 57, in the Roosevelt room of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 27, 2017. Alaska Rep. Don Young, second from left, watches. (Carlos Barria / Reuters)

Young also said he spent some time afterward with Vice President Mike Pence, and encouraged him to expand his focus beyond the circles of leadership. "I think he was very, very receptive of that. Just, not bragging or anything, but I've been through nine presidents. I've watched  the mistakes. I've watched the good things and I know where the biggest problem comes from is inner-circle conversations without going outside the circle. And you do that, then you get yourself in trouble in the long run," Young said.

By that, he meant the troubles the White House ran into with the failed Affordable Care Act repeal, he said. "We could have solved that problem earlier."

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