WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 803, the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act, with a crucial amendment authored by Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) that would help ensure equitable use of public lands in environmental justice communities.
Tlaib’s amendment requires the Department of the Interior (DOI) to complete a report on the use of special recreation permits by recreation service providers serving environmental justice communities. The report will help policymakers and the DOI improve the special recreation permitting process to maximize the accessibility of public lands – like national parks and forests – for environmental justice communities. Such communities, as found throughout the 13th District, are defined as “a community with significant representation of communities of color, low-income communities, or Tribal and indigenous communities, that experiences, or is at risk of experiencing, higher or more adverse human health or environmental effects than other communities.” Tlaib’s amendment incorporates portions of the Environmental Justice in Recreational Permitting Act previously introduced by President Biden’s Interior Secretary nominee Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-01), who would be the first-ever Native American woman to serve in a Presidential cabinet.
“13th District Strong is an environmental justice community where some national Clean Air Act standards have not been met in well over a decade,” Congresswoman Tlaib said. “The 13th and so many other communities across the country like it not only deserve the ability to experience and enjoy the clean air and lands of our country’s great national parks and forests, but also to have its children grow up knowing what fresh air actually feels like in their own neighborhoods.”
The Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act is a landmark piece of legislation that designates approximately 1.49 million acres of public land as wilderness and incorporates more than 1,000 miles of river into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The bill would also withdraw more than 1.2 million acres of public land from new oil and gas and mining claims, ensuring that iconic landscapes like the Grand Canyon and Colorado’s Thompson Divide are permanently protected from the irreversible threats posed by extraction.
Full text of Tlaib’s amendment can be read here.
Watch Congresswoman Tlaib speak about her amendment on the House floor here.