Tag Archives: Bureau of Land Management

PEER: Time for a new Interior secretary

From Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER:

Dear Alan:

This week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar apologized to a reporter he had threatened to “punch out” for asking him pointed questions about the scandal-plagued wild horse program. His frustration may be understandable, as the wild horse program is one in a corral-full of knotty problems that Interior has not resolved.  In fact, Salazar’s tenure at Interior has been one fiasco followed by another.

One of his first major decisions was to embrace the Bush “Drill, Baby, Drill” offshore oil program. Then the BP Gulf spill happened.  Salazar’s first reaction was to scapegoat his ownMMS Director who had been told to stay away from the oil issues and concentrate on alternative energy. Next, he broke up MMS in ways that kept the same pro-development biases in place.

Even today, Interior rushed approvals for Shell to enter Arctic waters without doing basic safety checks and still relying on industry self-certification.  Serious environmental concerns are still being suppressed. Agency approvals were given despite the fact that spill response capacity in the Arctic remains a big unknown.

Salazar is often mistaken for the Secretary of Energy but not just for pushing oil and gas.  His zealous pursuit of an “all of the above” energy approach appears to have left no resource un-bruised –

One central problem is that Salazar thinks he is entitled to cut deals with public resources like they are his to bargain away. Consider two recent Salazar forays into blatantly political deal-making at the expense of Interior’s resources –

  • He intervened to undermine a Park Service decision to deny a permit for a professional bike race that would close down part of the Colorado National Monument.  Despite the fact that the Park Service had rejected the permit three times, Salazar met privately with proponents to lay out a plan to do a new assessment, later saying the parks “need to be better neighbors.”

In his press conference on Wednesday, President Obama made it clear that the environment (at least climate change) would not be a second term priority. If he does not plan to spend political capital on the environment, at least his administration should not make matters worse.  It does not seem too much to ask that for the second term he appoint someone who actually understands Interior’s mission and will follow the law.

So despite the reelection, some regime change is definitely in order.  Help us bring it about.

Jeff Ruch
Executive Director

Gimme, gimme! Republicans and the big giveaway of public land

NY Times columnist Timothy Egan drills holes in the latest Republican plan to giveaway the federal public land heritage owned by all Americans, including, oddly enough, the Mitt. Consider the possibilities of what would happen to the
Grand Canyon if the National Park Service were chased away. Same for Padre Island National Seashore. Same for thousands of other places, all of them part of the great natural heritage of America.

BLM = Bureau of Lumber and Mining

That moniker was used many moons ago to describe the real mission of the Bureau of Land Management and then fell into disuse when the agency finally got is spine for not just managing but protecting the public’s natural heritage, a k a public land. Now, though, that moniker appears to be returning, as this article about the industry friendliness exhibited by a BLM field office in Utah sorrowfully illustrates.

A brief critique of the NY Times’ choice of adjectives: There is almost zero percent natural land now in the United States that could legitimately be described as “pristine.” I can think of only a few spots in central Idaho that would qualify as “pristine.” And that, buckaroos, is the real sorrowful aspect of our public land heritage today.

Wildfires in the West

The area along Interstate 84, the focus of this newspaper article, has been a fire-prone area for as long as I can remember. In fact, covering the occasional range fire outside the town of Gooding, Idaho, where I lived for just shy of a year while getting experience as a weekly newspaper reporter there, was a weekly deal during the summer of 1975.The temperature in Boise, Idaho, another former hometown of mine, reached 108 yesterday, a new record high for the date. Is climate change an underlying reason for the weather extremes were seeing across the country? The data appear to be saying yes.

Wild horse citizen panel faces conflicts


Wild horse allies: BLM stacking panel against them

Lost in the grumbling and speech-making are these facts: “Wild” horses are not native to our public lands in the West (or even Chincoteague Island off the Virginia Eastern Shore). And these “wild” horses compete for and wreck habitat needed by native wildlife; a situation akin to the overgrazing of public lands by livestock (cattle and sheep) at rates far below the prevailing market for leasing privately owned rangeland). You can follow the latest uproar in this article.

Federal judge says BLM ignored its own advice

The Bureau of Lumber and Mining, oops, that’s the Bureau of Land Management, erred when it came to sage grouse and the grazing of livestock, a judge tells it. Read about it here.