The ‘lame duck’ session is here

Published 12/9/2020  |  Trout Unlimited
A windmill in Idaho.
The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act ( PLREDA) might get some traction during the last few weeks of this Congressional session. Josh Duplechian photo.

In just over a month, the results of the 2020 elections will take effect.

That means the clock is ticking for the 116th Congress. Outgoing legislators will leave D.C., and newly elected members will take their seats, each with a fresh list of priorities and promises to fulfill for their constituents. Leadership positions will change, creating entirely new dynamics of power in the House and Senate.

Elected officials know they have one last shot to hammer out deals before the Congressional landscape changes permanently in January. The result? The lame-duck session … a sprint-to-the-finish flurry of legislative action defined by compromise we don’t see too often on the Hill.

For Trout Unlimited, the lame-duck is a strong opportunity to advance conservation priorities that are otherwise stuck in the political logjam. With more hard work (and a little good fortune), the following TU priority bills might have a chance here at the end of 2020.

The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act (HR. 3794/ S.2666):

Or PLREDA for short. This bill promotes responsible development of wind, solar and geothermal projects on public lands. PLREDA encourages smart siting and efficient permitting in places with high energy potential and low impact on wildlife and habitat. Most critically, the bill strategically directs a portion of proceeds from these projects back to the local state, county and public land resources where they are located, supporting further investment in communities, fish and wildlife resources and more efficient permitting for renewable energy projects.

Fishing on the Thompson Divide in Colorado. Josh Duplechian photo.

Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act (H.R 823 / S. 241):

This package of Colorado-centric bills is an list of thoroughly vetted public land protections that collectively protect critical coldwater streams, wildlife habitat and outdoor access in the state. The CORE Act includes the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act, the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act, the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act, and the Curecanti National Recreation Area Boundary Establishment Act.

The PUBLIC Lands Act (S. 3228):

This bill improves some of California’s best remaining public lands for salmon, steelhead, wild trout and upland wildlife. The PUBLIC Lands Act creates new land and water designations, funds restoration, and addresses wildfire threat throughout California’s most renowned hunting and fishing destinations.

Ruby Mountains Protection Act (S. 258):

Dubbed the “Swiss Alps of North America,” the Ruby Mountains are an iconic landscape in Elko County, Nevada, beloved by hunters and anglers around the world. The Ruby Mountains Protection Act permanently protects critical habitat in the Rubies from oil and gas exploration.

Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act (S.1765):

This bill will protect hundreds of miles of critical spawning tributaries in  80,000 acres of Montana’s finest backcountry public lands containing pristine headwater streams for species like the bull trout, an Endangered Species Act-threatened species .

The Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act (H.R. 1373/ S. 3127):

This legislation would protect the lands around the Grand Canyon National Park to benefit the health of tribal communities in Arizona, water quality in the Colorado River, numerous wildlife species, and our legacy of multiple-use public lands.

Smith River National Recreation Area Additions Act (S. 2875):

The Wild and Scenic Smith River of northwest California, one of the premier salmon and steelhead strongholds on the Pacific Coast, is vulnerable to destructive strip mining. This broadly supported legislation will permanently withdraw from new mining claims the last 58,000 acres in the Smith River watershed.

 

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