We might see more federal land protected for recreational use by executive fiat. President Barack Obama indicated in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday evening, Jan. 28 that he intends to use more executive action and bypass the Congress that has given him so much trouble. As a former legislator, he had tried to take a compromise approach which didn't often work.
In his speech, one of the actions he promised to take on his own was to “use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations.” He didn't elaborate; it was the only reference to outdoor recreation he made in the address. You can listen to it at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sotu.
After the speech, we got some reaction from various members of Congress.
“I love that. I stood up and I cheered on that,” said Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).
Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) said “we have in our state a lot of those...pristine lands that we'd like to protect.”
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) noted that most parks in the District of Columbia are run by the National Park Service and there's not much more pristine land in the city to protect. "We just need the park service to be funded so we can take care of them.”
Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) said he's eager to see lands along the Potomac and Chesapeake watersheds protected. “We want smart not overly burdensome regulations,” he told us.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), whose district includes several national parks, said “I think the president should use that authority,” though she couldn’t name any specific sites she'd like to see protected, “not at the moment.”
But outgoing Rep. and former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (R-MN) called the idea “just another act of the imperial presidency. The president has failed to execute the laws” when he acts unilaterally. “George Washington would never act the way President Obama is acting.”