The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wants to stop studying the long-term environmental impacts that its land use plans would have on America’s public lands while also limiting public participation, new reporting from Bloomberg Environmental revealed.
“This document reveals the true intentions of Secretary Bernhardt and the anti-public land zealots hired by Trump. This proposal is nothing more than a bold-faced attempt to clear the way for unchecked industry development on America’s public lands and could, in turn, open the door to their sale or transfer into private hands,” said Jayson O’Neill, Deputy Director of Western Values Project. “At this point, Trump and Bernhardt’s agenda is clear when it comes to the future of our outdoor heritage: eliminate public and community input on public land decisions in order to grant unfettered industry and corporate access to exploit America’s public resources.”
This revelation comes only a few short weeks after the Trump administration proposed gutting the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), America’s bedrock environmental law, following Interior Secretary Bernhardt’s previous attempts to limit NEPA reviews.
BLM’s proposed changes follow the NEPA rollback trend of excluding science, including climate science, limiting public participation, and ignoring the long-term impacts of land use planning decisions regarding America’s public lands. In essence, if the BLM’s proposed idea came to fruition, “it would eliminate the need for reports on the environmental effects of land use plans.” The BLM plans in question help manage 245 million acres of land across the country, determining how land will be used.
O’Neill continued, “The proposed change shouldn’t come as a surprise as it reflects a pattern within the Interior Department, and the Trump administration at large, of cutting out public opinion from the public lands decision-making process and taking public lands out of public hands.”
As previously documented by Western Values Project, the Trump administration and Sec. Bernhardt have filled Interior with anti-public land zealots and land transfer enthusiasts, including acting BLM director William Pendley and Fish and Wildlife Deputy Solicitor Karen Budd-Falen. Sec. Bernhardt previously indicated that the disposal and sale of public lands is back on the table. Further, with Pendley, a known anti-public lands zealot, leading the BLM, none of America’s public lands are safe.
While the proposed BLM rule change would make it easier for extractive corporations to develop public lands by dismissing a critical environmental review process, Western state public lands continue to face special interest threats. In Colorado specifically, where the BLM has now recklessly relocated to, monied influence is threatening the integrity of pro-public lands citizen initiatives and Trump’s culture of corruption has already paved the way for special interests to jeopardize some of the most iconic landscapes in the state.