Tester Defends Montana from Attempts to Sell Public Lands

Senator: Selling Public Lands Would Be Devastating to Outdoor Economy

(U.S. Senate)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester is defending Montana from any attempt to sell public lands in the upcoming federal budget.

Tester is demanding Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski not use the 2018 federal budget to sell public lands in Montana or anywhere else.

The Senate last week narrowly passed a budget resolution requiring Murkowski’s committee to raise $1 billion, which could come from selling off public lands in addition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Tester did not support the controversial measure.

“We strongly believe we must tackle our debt but are concerned this partisan, fast track process could be used by those in Congress who support selling off our public lands,” Tester and other Western senators wrote in a letter to McConnell and Murkowski. “We strongly oppose these efforts and respectfully urge you not to allow any such legislation to move forward.”

Tester underscored in his letter that selling or transferring public lands threatens Montanan’s way of life and puts the nation’s $887 billion outdoor economy at risk. Tester emphasized that Montana’s economy is driven by public land use in the form of hunting, fishing, livestock grazing, and timber harvests.

“Selling or transferring these lands would be devastating to the outdoor economy, and would trade one of our nation’s greatest investments for short-term financial gain,” Tester added.

Montana’s outdoor economy sustains more than 70,000 jobs and generates $7.1 billion annually.

Tester opposed the 2018 federal budget resolution last month because it cuts nearly $500 billion from Medicare and increases the likelihood of a public land transfer or sale. The 2018 federal budget resolution passed 51-49.

Tester’s letter to McConnell and Murkowski is cosigned by Senators Wyden, Heinrich, Bennet, Merkley, and Murray and is available HERE.