[Congressional Record Volume 160, Number 25 (Tuesday, February 11, 2014)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E195]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                               speech of

                         HON. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN

                              of maryland

                    in the house of representatives

                       Thursday, February 6, 2014

       The House in Committee of the Whole House on the state of 
     the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 2954) to 
     authorize Escambia County, Florida, to convey certain 
     property that was formerly part of Santa Rosa Island National 
     Monument and that was conveyed to Escambia County subject to 
     restrictions on use and reconveyance:

   Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 2954, the 
so-called ``Public Access and Lands Improvement Act.'' While there are 
some provisions in this bill that I think many of us could support, 
most of its titles include unacceptable waivers of environmental law 
and giveaways to private interests.
  The bill bypasses carefully balanced processes for transferring 
federal lands while protecting access and value for taxpayers, reverses 
a scientifically-based land management decision, and waives 
environmental protections and local consultation for certain land for 
timber harvests and grazing.
  As with many of the bills we've seen on the Floor this week, H.R. 
2954 makes sweeping and unnecessary changes to existing law that 
disrupt the balance necessary to manage our public lands in the best 
interest of American taxpayers. By waiving scientific review and local 
consultation, this cobbled-together omnibus makes ill-considered 
decisions about the future of public resources. I urge a no vote.