ICYMI: HuffPost: Daines Called Out For ‘Suddenly’ Pivoting on Public Lands   

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Thursday, June 11, 2020

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ICYMI: HuffPost: Daines Called Out For ‘Suddenly’ Pivoting on Public Lands 

Helena, MT – A new article highlights Senator Steve Daines’ cynical about face on public lands after previously “supporting Trump and his anti-conservation agenda at seemingly every turn” – including backing anti-public lands zealot William Perry Pendley as the acting director of the Bureau of Land Management. The story makes clear that Daines is only changing his tune on public lands in a desperate election-year attempt to save his political career. 

HuffPost: In An Election Year, 2 Vulnerable GOP Senators Are Suddenly Conservationists

By: Chris D’Angelo
 
Highlights:
 
Both Daines and Gardner are relatively new to the fight to protect the LWCF, and neither have particularly notable environmental records ― earning lifetime scores from the League of Conservation Voters of 6% and 11%, respectively.

Gardner, while a member of the House of Representatives in 2011, voted in favor of an amendment to an appropriations bill that would have drastically cut the LWCF’s already low funding. In 2015, Daines voted against reauthorizing the program. And in June 2018, hours after participating in a press conference calling for full and permanent LWCF funding, they both voted in favor of a spending cuts package that, among other things, would have slashed $16 million in LWCF funds from the U.S. Forest Service.

Environmentalists and public lands advocates have applauded the two lawmakers’ recent work on the LWCF and embraced the opportunity to secure permanent program funding, but it’s hard not to see Trump’s newfound support as little more than a gift to two Senate allies facing tough bids for reelection. Daines is facing Montana’s Democratic governor and former 2020 presidential candidate Steve Bullock, and Gardner is likely to square off against former Colorado governor and 2020 presidential contender John Hickenlooper. Roll Call named Gardner the most vulnerable Republican senator in 2020. 

“It is a desperate attempt to convince their constituents that they aren’t working on behalf of corporations and that they care about what the American people care about,” said Jayson O’Neill, director of public lands watchdog group Western Values Project.

The oil and gas sector has been a top-five contributing industry to both Daines and Gardner over their careers, according to Center for Responsive Politics data.

Supporting Trump and his anti-conservation agenda at seemingly every turn have been Gardner and Daines. Daines even signaled he’d back William Perry Pendley, the acting director of the Bureau of Land Management who has extreme anti-environmental views and spent his career lobbying for the sale of federal lands, if Trump were to officially nominate him for the post. Gardner has so far avoided taking a stand on Pendley, but touted his relationship with Trump and his own role in the administration’s controversial decision to move BLM headquarters to Colorado.

Daines and Gardner appear to have realized that they need a conservation victory to point to going into the 2020 election. It remains to be seen if this will give them the boost they need to secure another term.
 

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