Commentary: Trump is no conservative on federal lands issue
By David McIntosh in the Elko Daily Free Press
Donald Trump acts just like the worst kind of Washington insider. He’ll say one thing to one audience, and the opposite to another. Trump actually says whatever he thinks is in his own best interest.
On the topic of federal control over Nevada, Trump has said what he thinks people want to hear, but he’s already told us exactly how he feels about the subject.
In January, Trump talked about how federal bureaucrats control 85 percent of the land in Nevada, and he acknowledged that many Nevadans have been forced to deal with arbitrary and capricious federal rules over land use.
The problem is that just a few days earlier, at an outdoor show in Las Vegas, Trump was asked by Field and Stream Magazine about privatizing federal lands and transferring control of some of those lands to the states. He answered, “I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do.”
The federal government owns just four percent of the land east of the Mississippi River. In contrast, 47% of all the land in the West is controlled by officials in Washington, DC. In Nevada, as well as in Oregon and Utah, state governments are the minority stakeholders. New Yorker Trump may understand those facts, but he doesn’t trust states enough to make them part of the solution.
Trump seems to get the idea that western states are blocked from benefiting from the full economic potential of the land that surrounds them and that cash-strapped states are missing out on property tax dollars. Yet, he would deny them the keys to the land that Washington has under padlock.
Does Trump even understand that energy development has boomed on state and private lands during the Obama years, even while it was being cut back on federal lands?
That’s what happens when Washington is the inefficient landlord of its massive estate in the West.
Donald Trump may try to send mixed signals on this issue, as he has with many others, but he’s really crystal clear. He doesn’t trust Nevada and other western states. In fact Trump’s view of Washington is not of a limited, decentralized government, like that envisioned by our Founding Fathers. Instead, Trump seems to argue for a strong central authority that will do what he thinks is best for the country, whether or not the states like it.
Trump has tried to proclaim himself to be a conservative. But make no mistake; these are not the words of a conservative. That’s an important point for Nevada voters to keep in mind, because candidates are not bound to any truth-in-labeling requirements.