WASHINGTON, D.C., July 24, 2014 – Today, the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulations held an oversight hearing on “Threats, Intimidation and Bullying by Federal Land Managing Agencies.” This hearing continued Committee oversight into bullying by federal land management agencies and federal law enforcement agencies on private, state, and federal lands.
State and local governments, ranchers, business owners, and private citizens have been subject to threats, lack of cooperation, and numerous unfair or heavy-handed tactics which threaten public safety, the environment, endangered species, and the livelihoods of communities. Congressional oversight is necessary to provide an effective check on federal officials who abuse their regulatory powers.
“Today we took a second look at threats, intimidation and bullying by Federal Land Managing Agencies. During a hearing the Committee held last year and again today, we heard first-hand accounts of mistreatment at the hands of federal officials seeking to extort the witnesses into relinquishing their property rights,” said Representative Doug LaMalfa (CA-01). “These firsthand accounts give the victims of abusive conduct by a federal land managing official a chance to tell their story to Congress. Status quo agency oversight, policies and procedures are inadequate for addressing or deterring employee abuses and may instead embolden overreaching or malicious employee behavior with little risk of retribution for their actions.”
Witnesses highlighted examples of flagrant intimidation met by citizens who refuse to surrender their constitutional rights, land and water rights, grazing permits and other multiple-use benefits.
Sheriff James Perkins, Garfield County, UT, highlighted his perspective from 27 years of law enforcement and experience working with various federal law enforcement agencies.
“BLM’s attitude towards coordinating with local law enforcement is summed up best by a conversation I had with a BLM law enforcement officer while we were attending a drug task force meeting in Cedar City, Utah. He told me point blank that he didn’t care about any authority that I thought I had as the Garfield County Sheriff, and that he did not feel like he had to coordinate anything through my office… This refusal to coordinate, coupled with a lack of any meaningful oversight, has created a perfect environment where the abuse of federal law enforcement powers can occur.”