The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released final plans for the two illegally reduced national monuments in Utah in what could be described as an exercise in futility as legal challenges are still pending. Trump’s illegal reduction of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments amounted to the largest reduction of public land protections in U.S. history.
“This is not the first time the Trump administration took actions contrary to the law and it probably won’t be the last. Trump illegally rolled back protections on the largest acreage of public land in U.S. history and his Bureau of Land Management should not be proceeding with final management plans when the courts will likely rule against his actions,” said Western Values Project Deputy Director Jayson O’Neill. “Moving forward with business-as-usual despite the pending legal challenges for the same special interests and extractive corporations that brought the Trump administration into office is not only an exercise in futility but an extreme waste of tax dollars.”
The final management plans allow for the development of coal, oil, gas, uranium, and other materials no longer within the monument’s boundaries after the illegal reduction.
Analysis of public documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the New York Times found that oil was central in the decision to shrink Bears Ears, despite scandal-plagued former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s repeated claims that it was not.
Previous Western Values Project analysis documented the areas taken out of the national monuments that are rich in coal, oil, gas, uranium, and other materials. Former lobbyists-turned EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt both have represented uranium mining corporations and many of the same extractive industries that now stand to benefit.
William Pendley, Acting Director of the BLM, filed a petition on behalf of San Juan County opposing efforts to restore Bears Ears National Monument and is still the attorney of record for two other Utah counties defending the Trump administration’s illegal move to shrink the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument — calling into question his role in final plans that he is supposed to be recused from working on.