Trump's Eleventh Hour Attacks on America's Natural Treasures

In his final days, President Trump is selling our public lands and waters to the highest bidder to dig, drill and mine. 

The Green River in Labyrinth Canyon, Utah

The Green River in Labyrinth Canyon, Utah


Courtesy of Ray Bloxham/Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA)

In his final days, President Trump is selling our public lands and waters to the highest bidder to dig, drill and mine. The federal government holds these resources in trust for the use and enjoyment of all of usnot just today but also for our children tomorrow. President Trump should take care of these treasures not trash them. 

Here's what the Administration is doing, or could still do in the coming weeks, with respect to our public lands:

  1. Failing to fund repair work in National Parks as Congress directed. Interior Department missed the November 2 deadline for listing projects for funding under the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) that Congress provided in the recently passed Great American Outdoors Act.
  2. Drilling in wilderness (Green River, UT). BLM has issued draft environmental analysis proposing to approve a helium drilling project along the rim of the Green River north of Canyonlands National Park. The company, Twin Bridges, plans to drill at least two wells for helium, which will have many of the same on-the-ground impacts as conventional oil and gas drilling. BLM info and analysis here. More information about the area and impacts of the proposed drilling from Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance here. Public comment closed on November 9. BLM likely to finalize before Trump leaves office.
  3. Easing the way for oil and gas drilling in National Forests. Trump Forest Service poised to finalize new rules that limit opportunity for public notice and comment. Public comment closed November 2. 
  4. Making it easier to log in National Forests. Forest Service finalizes new NEPA rules. More here.
  5. Rushing to lease the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas drilling. Trump administration could hold a lease sale, and Interior could try to finalize recently proposed seismic exploration of the Coastal Plain. 
  6. Dropping protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Trump administration finalized repeal of Roadless Rule in November.
  7. Mining in Boundary Waters (MN). Trump Administration has reinstated Twin Metals leases for copper mine and weakens Clean Water Act protections that EPA and states could use to protect the area. Mine plan of operation pending before Bureau of Land Management.
  8. Mining sacred land (Oak Flat, AZ). Trump Administration hopes to complete land exchange giving land in the Tonto National Forest sacred to the San Carlos Apaches to Resolution Copper—a joint venture by mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP for a new copper mine.
  9. Permitting the killing of migratory birds without penalty. US Fish and Wildlife Service issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement the day after Thanksgiving to get around court rejection of prior action. Background and discussion of impacts available here. The FEIS paves the way for finalizing a new rule weakening protections under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
  10. Changing Land Management Plans to open more areas to drilling. Including areas around Chaco Canyon (NM) and Alaska’s Western Arctic.
  11. Selling oil and gas leases - sale scheduled for December offers numerous parcels of land. (380,000 acres in at least five states teed up for sale this month.)

    BLM lease sale lists here:

    New Mexico (October sale)

    You can find my colleague Josh Axelrod’s overall analysis of Trump’s oil and gas leasing here.

  12. Expediting pipelines. The Trump administration has issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative. Protests filed November 23. Administration could deny protests, issue approval.

Not the kind of presents I want under my tree.

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