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Protect Natural Treasures

From Canada's Spirit Bear Coast to California's Baja gray whale nursery to Alaska's Tongass rainforest, we work to secure long-term protection for exceptional wild places.

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We push the government to end all new leasing of fossil fuels on public lands and waters.

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We fight dirty energy projects on all fronts—from offshore oil rigs in the Arctic to fracking rigs in people’s backyards.

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We ensure wind and solar projects won't harm ecosystems by identifying potential conflicts from the beginning.

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What You Can Do

Tell Interior Secretary Zinke to defend our national monuments

Experts & Resources

If You’re Looking for Pollution Pics, I Know a Guy
Bobby McEnaney

On the day that the Trump administration announced plans to consider measures that would revoke the protection of public lands, a post by The Wilderness Society took notice that in the last few days the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which oversees 258 million acres of public lands, has dramatically altered their popular Flickr page. At odds with its past practice of posting images capturing the majesty of our nation’s natural heritage, the BLM has recently uploaded only photos highlighting strip mining, coal extraction, and oil and gas drilling activities. Previously known as one of the best repositories for nature photography found anywhere on the web, this departure draws a sharp contrast.

Comparison of BLM's Flickr page, January 2017 (left) and today

Sources: Flickr; the Internet Archive; The Wilderness Society

The change in tone is so dramatic it leads to one speculate on what exactly is going on at BLM.  Did the BLM hire an editor from the Onion to run its Flickr page? Or maybe this is a new form of “truth in advertising” by the BLM, given that the Flickr site often ignored the darker side of how public lands have been historically mismanaged. After all, decades of emphasis by the BLM on promoting mining, livestock grazing, and fossil fuel drilling have done irreparable harm to many of the wild lands that the BLM should have been protecting instead.

Source: BLM/Flickr

But the more logical explanation is that the Trump administration is reflecting a myopic and singular vision for public lands—a vision that elevates the promotion of fossil fuels at the expense of conservation or the development of clean energy sources. In fact, if one scrolls through the new images, the revamped site exhibits a tone deafness that cannot be easily excused or explained away. For instance, one of the posted photos seemingly celebrates an abandoned oil well. The BLM is literally touting an abandoned well site where drilling equipment has been left to rot and pollute on public lands. And nowhere in the accompanying caption does the BLM acknowledge any problem with leaving equipment to rust and leak. With tens of thousands of abandoned wells on BLM-managed lands, whose cleanup will be covered by U.S. taxpayers, the irony is too much.

It would be one thing if the administration was posting a diverse range of images, but the site has become dedicated advertising for fossil fuel development. The BLM highlights the fact that it manages lands for multiple uses, but we may have to remind this administration what “multiple” means.

Coastal Rallies in Response to Trump's Offshore Order
Franz Matzner

Millions of Americans spoke out over the last several years to urge then-President Barack Obama to protect our oceans. And he did, to large extent, by permanently withdrawing nearly all of the Arctic Ocean and sensitive areas of the Atlantic from consideration for oil and gas leasing, removing both oceans entirely from the 5-year leasing plan (covering 2017 through 2022), and limiting seismic exploration that substantially harms marine mammals. Today, President Trump is initiating his attempt to undo those measures and Americans will speak out again. The communities of our southeastern seaboard mobilized en masse to preclude the oil industry from drilling off their coasts. Many of those communities are acting quickly this week to respond to the threat Trump’s Executive Order poses to their very livelihoods.

Below is list of events being held in coastal southeastern states. It will be continuously updated as more details become available and more event plans are solidified. So please check back if you live in this region!

VIRGINIA (1)

WHEN: Friday, 4/28 @ 1:15 PM
WHERE: Neptune Park, 31st St. on the boardwalk in Va. Beach
WHO (Speakers): Laura Wood Habr (Founding Member, BAPAC; Vice President, VBRA; Owner, Croc’s 19th St. Bistro); Joseph Bouchard, Ph.D. (Captain, U.S. Navy (Ret.); Others TBA

NORTH CAROLINA (2-3)

WHAT: NO Oil Drill Press Conference/Rally
WHEN: Saturday, 4/29 @ 10:00 AM
WHERE: 10th St. Boat Ramp in Morehead City at the Bogue Sound end of the street (at the corner of 10th and Shepard St.)

WHAT: DontDrillNC press conference before OBX Peoples Climate March
WHEN: Saturday, 4/29 @ 9:00 AM
WHERE: Jockey's Ridge; 300 W. Carolista Drive, Nags Head, NC 27959

Another event in Wilmington, TBA

SOUTH CAROLINA (3-4)

WHAT: Beaufort Press Conf
WHEN: Friday, 4/28 @ 11:00 AM
WHERE: Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, Bay St, Beaufort, SC 29902
WHO: Mayor Keyserling as primary speaker

WHAT: Myrtle Beach Press Conf
WHEN: Thursday, 5/4 @ 10:00 AM
WHERE: Damons Restaurant, 2985 S Ocean Blvd, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577

WHAT: Charleston Press Conf
WHEN: Friday, 4/28 @ 2:00 PM
WHERE: Charleston Maritime Center, 10 Warfside St. Charleston SC 29401
WHO: Mayor Tecklenberg speaking

Trump: Check the Fine Print
Franz Matzner

This week, the Trump Administration continued its sweeping assault on our public lands and oceans issuing an unprecedented Executive Order mandating a review of all National Monuments designated since 1996. As my colleague writes, this is a shocking rejection of the very principle of conservation that has been a central part of America’s identity since President Teddy Roosevelt set aside our first National Monument, the Devils Tower more than a century ago

It’s also enormously controversial. That’s probably why the administration took great pains to hide the ball on the true scope of its attack. Initial press statements claimed the review would apply only to a handful of larger monuments. Yet the actual Executive Order contains no such limitation, putting over 50 existing monuments on a target list to be drastically shrunk or sold off to the highest bidder.

Call it spin. Label it misinformation. Or an outright and intentional falsehood. The salient point is that it’s time for everyone—from individual citizens to the press—to look behind the curtain of Trump’s words and judge by the actual actions taken.

Little could be more revealing than the consistency with which Trump and his cabinet are systematically attempting to deliver the fossil fuel industry its wish list—no matter how much that list violates the science, the law, real economics, or the will of the majority of Americans. And that it puts our health at risk that rises with every anti-environmental action the president undertakes.

Tomorrow the President reportedly will announce another Executive Order that similarly threatens our valuable public waters. We can predict a similar pattern of misdirection.   

We are not certain of exactly what will be in the executive order. But we do know its intent: to be the opening move to putting drill rigs in our coastal waters—and oil spills—back on our beaches.  

There will be a lot of hand waving about jobs and energy independence, blatantly disregarding the threat offshore drilling possess to over 1.4 million existing jobs that support local communities up and down the coast. 

It will ignore the fact that oil from these still unspoiled oceans would take decades to reach consumers, long past when we need to make the transition to clean energy.  

And it runs rough-shod over the will of the people.  No one should forget that during the course of the last two-year process to evaluate the management of our commonly held coastal resources a groundswell of bipartisan opposition erupted across the nation demanding that our public waters be preserved and protected.   

That opposition will be on clear display today when Senators Ed Markey and Menendez host a press event along with 27 colleagues to introduce legislation further protecting our oceans, coastal residents, and climate. The event only underscores the broad base of support for keeping oil off our beaches and our commitments to clean energy on course.

There is simply no reason whatsoever to restart a process, concluded only a few months ago, other than to try and force the will of the oil industry on the people—by hook or by crook.

Tomorrow, we will see just how far President Trump wants to go at the behest of the oil industry.  

What we know today is that the administration is opening the door for our priceless natural landscapes to be sold and exploited. Our public parks, monuments, national forests, wildlands and vibrant oceans, set aside for all to enjoy, are a unique part of our collective heritage.  Preserving them has been one of America’s great innovations. Preserving them highlights American values. It’s our duty to protect them for this and future generations. These lands and waters belong solely to the American people. They should never be sold to polluters or given away to private interests that would desecrate and destroy them for profit.

And any attempts to do will meet the same intensity of opposition that led to the protection of these wonderful places in the first place. 

Trump's Bad Bet #1: DAPL
Sharon Buccino
A Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp near Cannon Ball, January 24, 2017

Terray Sylvester/Reuters

UPDATE: 6/14/17 Judge finds pipeline approval unlawful.  Hearings set to begin June 21 to determine whether pipeline should shut down.  

Energy Transfer Partners is seeking to construct a pipeline under Lake Oahe to transport oil from western North Dakota to refineries in Illinois. The pipeline would run for 1,172 miles and transport up to 570,000 barrels of oil per day. The Assistant Secretary of the Army decided that an Environmental Impact Statement was necessary to address the impact an oil spill could have on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who depend on Lake Oahe for their drinking water. Key documents regarding oil spill risk, response and environmental justice had been withheld from the Tribe and others. In addition, previous analysis had failed to address the Tribe's treaty rights and the government's obligation under the Mineral Leasing Act to protect subsistence fishing and hunting.  The Army Corps of Engineers initiated a public comment period to prepare the EIS on January 18, 2017. In an abrupt about-face, the Trump Administration shut down this comment period and granted Dakota Access an easement to construct the pipeline under Lake Oahe.  

President Trump is a businessman, so you’d think he would know a good bet when he sees one. Reversing Obama’s decision on the Dakota Access Pipeline isn’t.   

Here’s why:

  1. The tribes and others affected by the decision deserve a meaningful say. They didn’t get it. In January, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers initiated a public comment period for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement. On February 7, the Army Corps shut down the public comment and announced that it would grant the easement to complete the pipeline.
  2. Trump broke the law. Agencies have to justify a reverse course. Here, the Army Corps didn’t.
  3. The National Environmental Policy Act requires agencies to analyze new information. Again, the Army Corps didn’t.  
  4. Trump ignored his own order. His own presidential memorandum requires conditions on the easement that are “necessary and appropriate.” Completing an Environmental Impact Statement is needed to determine such conditions.
  5. Additional analysis is needed to prevent and detect oil leaks. Existing analysis does not adequately address these issues. In fact, the Army Corps continues to keep critical risk analysis and spill response documents secret. And the risks are real: In December, as the Standing Rock Sioux and its allies resisted Dakota Access, a pipeline rupture—just 150 miles away—undetected by leak-detection systems spilled 176,000 gallons into a nearby creek.
  6. Further analysis is needed to protect reserved treaty rights. In a December 4, 2016, opinion, the Solicitor of the Department of the Interior concluded that "[l]ands taken to create Lake Oahe remain on-reservation." In addition to crossing under the lake, the pipeline crosses unceded Sioux territory. ​
  7. More analysis is needed to ensure compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act.
  8. Pipeline profits will benefit a few.
  9. Risk of harm is borne by many.
  10. The many will resist. Trump claims that he has received no calls to complain about Dakota Access. Take a minute to call him now.
NAFTA Renegotiations Must Prioritize People and the Planet
Amanda Maxwell Anthony Swift

President Trump has made renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) one of the main goals for his administration, and has recently revealed the general plan to do so. As this process moves forward, NRDC, the Sierra Club, and our partners across a broad range of sectors are calling on the administration to include eight critical issues among their priorities in changing NAFTA, outlined below. We want to ensure that any new provisions in NAFTA result in a transparent agreement that supports—and does not undermine—a more stable climate, clean air and water, healthy communities, indigenous peoples, and good jobs. 

In the 23 years since NAFTA’s signing, the economies of Mexico, Canada and the U.S. have become intertwined and interdependent, with $1.1 trillion in trade moving among the three countries in 2016. During those decades, too, new issues such as climate change, clean energy and sustainability, have moved to the forefront of international relations. So, while it remains unclear exactly how and to what extent the Trump administration will change this accord, there are several critical provisions that should be included to improve the lives of people living and working in all three countries, and the environments they depend on.

NRDC is pleased to ally with 350.org, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth, Global Exchange, Green America, Greenpeace USA, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, the League of Conservation Voters, Food & Water Watch, the Sierra Club, and US Human Rights Network in calling on the Trump Administration to include the following eight issues among their priorities in changing NAFTA:

  1. Eliminate rules that empower corporations to attack environmental and public health protections in unaccountable tribunals. NAFTA’s investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system allows multinational corporations—e.g. ExxonMobil and TransCanada—to bypass our courts, go to private tribunals, and demand money from taxpayers for policies that affect corporate bottom lines. Corporations have used NAFTA to challenge bans on toxic chemicals, decisions of environmental review panels, and protections for our climate. They have extracted more than $370 million from governments in these cases, and pending NAFTA claims total more than $50 billion. What’s more, the cases are heard not by judges, but by corporate lawyers outside the normal court system.
  2. Incorporate strong, enforceable environmental and labor standards into the core text of the agreement. To address environmental and labor issues, NAFTA created side agreements which are non-binding and have limitations. As a result, they have been relatively ineffective. To ensure that the new terms of a revised trilateral trade agreement create and uphold a fair playing field for environmental and labor conditions, these two areas must be included inside the core text of the agreement. That means that a country that fails to live up to its environmental obligations will be subject to trade sanctions similar to the existing provisions for violation of commercial parts of the agreement. This will also require that countries live up to existing international agreements and address environmental challenges such as critical conservation challenges related to illegal timber trade, illegal wildlife trade, and fisheries management.
  3. Protect energy sector reform from backward-looking rules. NAFTA's energy chapter limits Canada's ability to restrict production of climate-polluting fossil fuels such as tar sands oil. The chapter, written before awareness of climate change was widespread, must be eliminated. Other NAFTA rules allow renewable portfolio standards, low-carbon fuel standards, and other climate-friendly energy regulations to be challenged for impeding business for foreign fossil fuel firms. Such rules must be narrowed to protect climate policies in each country.
  4. Restrict pollution from cross-border freight vehicles. NAFTA encouraged a rise in cross-border motor carrier traffic without doing anything to mitigate the resulting increase in harmful vehicle emissions. Any deal that replaces NAFTA must require cross-border freight vehicles to reduce emissions in order for their goods to benefit from reduced tariffs. In addition, all cross-border commercial vehicles must be required to comply with all state and federal standards to limit pollution.
  5. Require green government purchasing instead of restricting it. NAFTA's procurement rules limit governments' ability to use "green purchasing" requirements that ensure government contracts support renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable goods. Any changes to NAFTA must require signatory governments to include a preference for goods and services with low environmental impacts in procurement decisions.
  6. Bolster climate protections by penalizing imported goods made with high climate emissions. NAFTA allows firms to shift production to a country with lower climate standards, which can spur "carbon leakage" and job offshoring. To prevent this, and encourage greater climate action from high-emissions trading partners, each country should be required to impose a border fee on imported goods whose production causes significant climate pollution.
  7. Require governments to prioritize policies that minimize climate pollution. While NAFTA restricts climate policies that limit trade or investment, any replacement deal must instead put climate first. This includes requiring governments to use a "climate impact test" for policymaking, in which potential climate impacts of policy proposals are reported and weighed.
  8. Add a broad protection for environmental and other public interest policies. NAFTA’s many overreaching rules restrict the policy tools that governments can use to protect the environment and other broadly-shared priorities. NAFTA includes no provision that effectively shields public interest policies from such rules – only a weak “exception” in Article 2101 that has consistently failed to protect challenged policies. Instead, any deal that replaces NAFTA must include a broad “carve-out” that exempts public interest policies from all of the deal’s rules.

If President Trump moves forward with altering NAFTA, any renegotiations must be conducted transparently through open processes, providing the public in all three countries with the opportunity to participate. We and our partners in the environmental, labor, health, consumer, agricultural, and other communities will be eager to see whether President Trumps supports a renegotiated NAFTA that supports—and does not undermine—a more stable climate, clean air and water, healthy communities, indigenous peoples, and good jobs. 

Big Cypress & Other Parks Put at Risk by Trump's Climate EO
Alison Kelly

A Texas-based oil company started trampling through the Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida’s Everglades on Monday, initiating the first of four planned phases of oil exploration. Last week, President Donald Trump signed an “Energy Independence” Executive Order that will make it more difficult for the National Park Service to protect sensitive public lands like Big Cypress from more fossil fuel development.

While oil and gas and drilling is typically limited within the National Parks system, in some cases, the Park Service did not acquire the oil and gas mineral rights located beneath park units, resulting in a “split estate,” where the federal government owns the surface estate and another entity—individual, nonprofit organization, corporation, state or local government—owns the underlying mineral rights. As of 2015, there were 12 National Park units in this situation with active oil and gas operations. Another 30 units have the potential for future development of non-federal oil and gas rights. Big Cypress is one of them.

President Trump’s Executive Order included a provision directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review and ultimately suspend, revise, or rescind much-needed updates to what are known as the Park Service’s “9B rules” governing non-federal oil and gas rights in National Park units. The rule affected by the Order was intended to update the 39-year old 9B rules governing split estate oil and gas development within the National Park System, and would have made the following common-sense improvements:

  1. Requiring operators to post adequate bonds or other financial assurances to ensure that enough funds would be available to clean up spills and restore exploration and drilling sites to natural conditions, in the event an operator becomes insolvent or defaults on its obligations;
  2. Closing loopholes that currently exempt over half of oil and gas operations in national park units from providing any financial assurances;
  3. Closing a loophole that allows “privileged access” for oil and gas operators to construct roads or pipelines on public lands to access private oil and gas rights, without providing any compensation; and
  4. Improving the Park Service’s enforcement authority by incorporating existing penalty provisions and allowing law enforcement staff to write citations for oil and gas operators’ noncompliance.  

The Big Cypress National Preserve is an extraordinary and unique national treasure. It is essential to the health of the Florida Everglades and is home to many threatened and endangered species, including the rare Florida panther. It also serves as an important tourist destination in south Florida. Despite the fragility and regional importance of Big Cypress, the National Park Service recently authorized extensive seismic exploration within 70,000 acres of the preserve, most of which consists of sensitive wetland habitats. This is only the first of four planned phases that will ultimately encompass one-third of the preserve. If oil and gas resources are found, drilling would likely be next.

Some drilling has already taken place in Big Cypress outside of the areas currently being explored for more oil and gas. However, the outdated 9B rules have not been protective enough. For example, one operator built a damaging 11-mile long private road across Big Cypress to access an oil and gas lease, which caused environmental damage to the preserve. The Park Service did not receive any compensation in exchange for allowing this damaging access, which could have been used for restoration.

In addition to the “privileged access” loophole, current rules only require an operator to post a bond in the amount of $200,000, for the entire oil and gas operation, which would not be enough to restore preserves like Big Cypress. Actual costs to plug and reclaim abandoned oil and gas wells in wet landscapes, such as the wetlands occurring in Big Cypress, are estimated by the Park Service to cost as much as $215,000 per well. This does not include the costs of remediating a major accident, such as a blow-out or spill, which are not uncommon in the oil and gas industry. Therefore, the precious resources in Big Cypress could be lost forever to private oil and gas development without adequate Park Service oversight.

The much-needed updates to the 9B rules would not prevent oil and gas operations in Big Cypress or other National Park units from taking place, but would provide common-sense protections. At a time when our National Parks are facing an enormous maintenance backlog, it would be irresponsible to shift the risks associated with oil and gas development from the oil and gas industry to American taxpayers.

Trump's Plan to Gut Interior's Budget
Bobby McEnaney

The California Coastal National Monument at Point Arena-Stornetta was expanded thanks to acquisitions made possible by the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Under the Trump administration’s proposed budget, the LWCF, which protects lands for future generations, will have its funding virtually eliminated. Photo Credit Bob Wick/BLM

One of the worst kept secrets in D.C. for the last few weeks was how the Trump administration would gut the budgets of a number of critical federal agencies. This included persistent chatter that the Department of Interior, an agency charged with overseeing our nation’s natural resources, would be asked to cut 10 percent from its 2018 Fiscal Year budget. After years of being severely shortchanged by the budget process, the newly confirmed Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke shared his displeasure about these rumored cuts, telling Interior staff and reporters, “I looked at the budget. I’m not happy, but we’re going to fight about it, and I think I’m going to win at the end of the day.”

Well, it was a short fight. Two weeks later, not only did the administration move forward with those cuts, they formally proposed an even larger 12 percent overall reduction of the Interior Department’s budget.  All told, a 12 percent cut would eliminate $1.57 billion dollars from the previously enacted $13.4 billion budget. One would think that cutting an additional $262 million  would have drawn an even stronger rebuke from Sec. Zinke, but the Secretary issued this inconsistent statement: “I can say for certain that this budget allows the Interior Department to meet our core mission and also prioritizes the safety and security of the American people.”

One has to wonder what changed in those two weeks to convince Sec. Zinke that all is well in terms of these drastic budget cuts. Unfortunately the administration’s budget proposal is absent specifics, but what is clear in the document is that this administration is certainly not interested in a budget process that will seek cuts evenly across projects and programs—as has been the practice over the last few years. And while we don’t know what might happen to a number of key programs, it is clear that the budget will certainly favor the fossil fuel industry who stand to benefit the greatest by these proposals. The budget document states that the Interior Department will "…streamline permitting processes and provide industry with access to the energy resources America needs.” In sharp contrast, the budget would eliminate $120 million in funding for land and water conservation acquisition. It’s a severe departure for a 164 year old agency that describes itself “as the nation’s principal conservation agency.”   

What might be lost in these often abstract discussions about how best to spend billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money is the fact that the mission of the Interior Department matters greatly to our nation’s well being. The Interior Department is one the most critical federal agencies, responsible for the protection of our environment and the health of the American public, while stewarding over 500 million acres of lands and water. For better or worse, the agency is responsible for managing approximately one-fourth of the nation’s energy production. It is also home to some of the richest renewable energy resources found anywhere. It is vested in protecting our wildlife, our clean water systems, and the parks where we recreate. The Interior Department also has a profound moral and legal obligation to ensure that our nation’s obligations to Native Americans are met. The agency also oversees the nation’s most beloved areas, including the National Parks: Yellowstone, Joshua Tree, and the Grand Canyon. Last year, the National Park Service hosted a record 331 million visitors.  And the Interior's work helps drive our economy. Case in point, in 2015 Interior lands and waters generated $46 billion in economic output, supporting nearly 400,000 jobs. 

Most of all, what the Interior Department represents is legacy; it oversees our nation’s special places so that future generations will have the same opportunity to enjoy them as we do now.  Hence, budget numbers matter.  And in that regard, our lands, waters, and wildlife deserve better than an administration that is not committed to honor that legacy.

Congress Kills BLM’s Planning 2.0 Rule
Bobby McEnaney

Repeal of the rule denies the Bureau of Land Management use of modern tools. 

In its march to turn the clock back, the Senate passed legislation today repealing an effort by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to improve the management of the broad array of ecological and economic resources found on the 247 million acres of public lands managed by this key agency. The Senate passed the repeal using the once obscure Congressional Review Act (CRA).

The rule, known as Planning 2.0, was an earnest and long-overdue attempt by the BLM to modernize how the public and stakeholders are engaged in order to improve management decisions that could impact lands all across the Western U.S. It established a dynamic framework intended to involve developers and other stakeholders alike earlier in the planning process. The rule also allowed the BLM to adopt more advance planning tools, such as Geographic Information System mapping, to improve transparency and outcomes.

But with today’s vote—assuming President Trump signs the repeal into law—all of those good intentions go by the wayside. The CRA process is a blunt instrument that provides Congress with the ability only to conduct a straight up or down vote on whether a rule should exist at all. Worse, the CRA allows Congress to adopt an expedited process, with no hearings and preventing Senators from using the normal safeguard that prevent bills from passing without 60 votes. But that is far from the worst part of the CRA. Incredibly the law purports to prevent “an agency from ever issuing any ‘new rule that is substantially the samewithout new authorizing legislation from Congress.”

In the case of the BLM’s Planning 2.0 rule, that means that the agency has to revert to the prior planning rule, a rule that was last updated over three decades ago in 1983. A lot of things were popular and cutting edge in 1983, including video tape recorders, the Apple IIe computer, “Return of the Jedi,” and “My Little Pony.” But even if one liked “My Little Pony” as a child, most of us matured and moved on. But Congress apparently does not think the normal maturation process should apply to the BLM.

That requires ignoring a lot of changes. Since the 1980s, there has been a rapidly accelerating amount of pressure placed on our federal lands, including increased oil and gas drilling and the expansion of recreational activities on federal lands, not to mention dramatic changes to our public landscapes thanks to climate change. But with a CRA, even if the BLM wanted to make minor modifications in how it plans for change in the future, it may have to go through the Congressional process first for approval. And that means that the BLM would be handcuffed with a framework from 1983, to the point where staff may not even be able to employ modern tools—including now-standard technology like GIS maps or online databases—to inform the public.  

This makes no sense for an agency that has to manage a complex system, particularly when that system is the 240 million acres of lands, waters, and wildlife that need to be stewarded in a manner that will conserve these resources for generations to come. Unfortunately, Congress is getting its marching orders from the fossil fuel industry, which prefers a rigged system and abhors the transparency afforded by the planning rule. It is regrettable that most of the Republicans in Congress cannot appreciate the fact that our public lands deserve better.

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