Forget China, guns or immigration. Donald Trump is taking on a new issue: federal land ownership.
In a new op-ed for the Reno Gazette-Journal, the Republican presidential front-runner rails against the “draconian rule” of the Bureau of Land Management and the Obama administration’s “land grab” in the western United States.
“The BLM controls over 85 percent of the land in Nevada,” Trump explains. “In the rural areas, those who for decades have had access to public lands for ranching, mining, logging and energy development are forced to deal with arbitrary and capricious rules that are influenced by special interests that profit from the D.C. rule-making and who fill the campaign coffers of Washington politicians.”
On Thursday, Trump told the New York Times he would end an ongoing dispute between Oregon ranchers and federal officials, that’s culminated with a group of armed protesters staging an ongoing occupation of a federal wildlife refuge, with a “phone call.”
“You cannot let people take over federal property,” Trump told the Times.
Now, Trump says Americans shouldn’t let the government turn the West into a federally-owned frontier.
“Honest, hardworking citizens who seek freedom and economic independence must beg for deference from a federal government that is more intent on power and control than it is in serving the citizens of the nation,” Trump writes in his RGJ op-ed.
Trump, a billionaire real estate developer, pushes the conservative argument that because the government owns millions of acres of land, specifically in Nevada, “the cost of land has skyrocketed and the cost of living has become an impediment to growth.”
“Where are the city and county to get the land for schools, roads, parks and other public use areas if they have to beg Washington for the land and then pay a premium price for it? How are people who see a future in Nevada to find housing and employment if the federal government is inhibiting economic development?” he writes.
According to Trump, who’s second in the Washington Examiner’s presidential power rankings, the only way to solve the issues sparked by federal land ownership “is to bring to Washington a president who will rein in the federal government and get Congress to do its job.”
“What is needed in Washington is a president who has the will, strength and courage to lead,” he writes, adding, “When I am elected president, I will bring the executive branch back inside the Constitution and will work with Congress to put America first.”