Where Meanderthals keeps track of anti-conservation, anti-environment tactics


Zinke’s own agency watchdog just referred him to the Justice Department

October 30, 2018 The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General has referred one of its ongoing probes into the conduct of Secretary Ryan Zinke to the Justice Department for further investigation. Interior Deputy Inspector General Mary L. Kendall is conducting at least three probes that involve Zinke. These include his involvement in a Montana land deal and the decision not to grant two tribes approval to operate a casino in Connecticut. A referral to the Justice Department means that prosecutors will explore whether a criminal investigation is warranted. [cite]


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Zinke plans to destroy Interior Department records

October 27, 2018 Ryan Zinke wants to destroy records such as proposals to help endangered species recover and proposals for protecting where the animals live. The request is part of a proposed massive purge of Interior records that also includes records about oil and gas leases, timber sales, dams and land purchases. Only final reports would be kept, and transferred to the National Archives, where they would be more difficult to access under the Freedom of Information Act for reporters and other researchers. [cite]


Trump nominates former Monsanto executive to lead U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

October 22, 2018 President Trump announced that he intends to nominate a former agrochemical industry official to lead the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The selection of Aurelia Skipwith, who worked at Monsanto for six years, to head FWS carries on a Trump administration trend of filling top environmental regulatory positions with officials from companies regulated by the agency. [cite]


Zinke Has Fired the DOI Inspector General

October 15, 2018 At last count, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was the subject of 14 separate government investigations, but that number could soon be zero. That’s because Zinke just fired the Department of the Interior’s acting inspector general who had been looking into irregularities. He faces investigations for his lavish travel arrangements, threatening members of Congress, a potentially illegal real estate deal, and re-assigning senior DOI employees he didn’t consider “loyal,” among others. [cite]


E.P.A. to Disband a Key Scientific Review Panel on Air Pollution

October 11, 2018 The 20-person Particulate Matter Review Panel, made up of experts in microscopic airborne pollutants known to cause respiratory disease, is responsible for helping the agency decide what levels of pollutants are safe to breathe. Agency officials declined to say why the E.P.A. intends to stop convening the panel next year, particularly as the agency considers whether to revise air quality standards. [cite]


Trump administration moves to open 1.6 million acres to fracking, drilling in California

October 3, 2018 The Trump administration took a first step toward opening 1.6 million acres of California public land to fracking and conventional oil drilling, triggering alarm bells among environmentalists. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management said it’s considering new oil and natural gas leases on BLM-managed lands in Fresno, San Luis Obispo and six other San Joaquin Valley and Central Coast counties. [cite]


Zinke is officially rolling back offshore oil and gas production safety rules

September 28, 2018 Safety rules for the oil and gas industry introduced after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster are officially being rolled back by the Trump administration. In a notice that appears in the Federal Register, the Dept. of Interior removes or revises certain rules focusing on safety requirements during the time an oil platform is producing oil and gas. [cite]


Trump administration abruptly ends key law enforcement program at wildlife refuges

September 21, 2018 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced to employees on Sept. 21 that refuge managers who were also trained to police the area would no longer be able to act in any enforcement capacity and would be stripped of their firearm. “It means there will be lots of violations, wildlife violations as in over-bagged hunting areas, damaged fences, signs, roads and all kinds of damage to the environment. If there is no one there to enforce the law, that would spread like wildfire.” [cite]


Trump Administration Wants to Make It Easier to Release Methane Into Air

September 10, 2018 The Trump administration, taking its third major step this year to roll back federal efforts to fight climate change, is preparing to make it significantly easier for energy companies to release methane into the atmosphere. Methane, which is among the most powerful greenhouse gases, routinely leaks from oil and gas wells, and energy companies have long said that the rules requiring them to test for emissions were costly and burdensome. The EPA will also repeal a restriction on the intentional venting and “flaring,” or burning, of methane from drilling operations. [cite]


Zinke opens more wildlife refuges to hunting

September 7, 2018 Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke allowed for new or expanded hunting or fishing at 30 wildlife refuges. The move opens 251,000 new acres to hunting or fishing across the Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) refuge system. By the 2018-2019 hunting season, 377 refuges will allow hunting and 312 will allow fishing. What doesn’t Zinke understand about “wildlife refuge?” [cite]


Feds reopen forests near Boundary Waters Wilderness to mining

September 6, 2018 The Trump administration has canceled a study of a proposed 20-year mining ban within the watershed of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, clearing the way for renewed mineral leasing within about 365 square miles of the Superior National Forest. The Boundary Waters is America’s most visited wilderness area. Explorers find refuge in its pristine waters and forested lands, which offer 1,200 miles of canoe routes and 18 hiking trails. The area also includes more than 1,000 lakes left by receding glaciers and hundreds of miles of streams. [cite]


Government Defunds Grand Canyon Scientific Research

August 21, 2018 The federal government plans to defund several longstanding programs that monitor the environmental health of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. Twenty-three million dollars will be swept from the “Basin Fund” which supports Grand Canyon research and ensures Glen Canyon Dam operates in compliance with federal laws like the Endangered Species Act. Hydropower revenues have funded this work for more than two decades. [cite]


Trump issues rollback of Obama’s biggest climate rule

August 21, 2018 The new EPA rule would allow states more leeway to write their own regulations for coal-fired power plants or even seek permission to opt out, a sharp contrast with the previous version that sought to shift the electricity industry away from coal use and toward less-polluting sources such as natural gas, wind and solar. The new proposed rules would trim less than 10% of the carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector as the Obama EPA’s version. [cite]


Trump Administration May Sell Or Transfer Land Cut From Utah Monument

August 15, 2018 The Bureau of Land Management is considering the “disposal” of parcels totalling more than 1,600 acres that Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke stripped from Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. One parcel ― a 120-acre piece of land east of Kanab ― sits adjacent to 40 acres that are owned by Utah state Rep. Mike Noel (R) and which were removed from the monument. “Looks like an egregious attempt to sell public land for the benefit of one of Secretary Zinke’s Utah cronies.” [cite]


Trump Administration Reverses Ban of Bee-Toxic Pesticides on National Wildlife Refuges

August 7, 2018 The Trump administration has reversed a 2014 U.S. Fish and Wildlife decision to ban neonicotinoids on National Wildlife Refuges. The highest risk to bees is posed by use of two neonicotinoids, thiamethoxam and clothianidin, on cereal grains like corn, wheat, rice, and barley. The seeds of these crops are typically coated with neonicotinoids before planting, where residues persist in the pollen and nectar. [cite]


Trump administration rolls back plans to raise fuel economy standards for autos

August 2, 2018 The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and Environmental Protection Agency say they intend to reverse ambitious targets for fuel economy and emissions reductions, which the agencies developed under President Barack Obama. At the same time, the administration confirmed it will seek to strip California of its special authority to set its own fuel economy levels for autos. [cite]


Trump to end policy ordering developers pay for damage to public lands

July 25, 2018 The Trump administration will end a policy that requires oil drillers, miners and land developers to pay the government for damages its work can have on wildlife and habitats on public land. The Interior Department will stop requiring off-site “compensatory mitigation.” [cite]


Law That Saved the Bald Eagle Could Be Vastly Reworked

July 19, 2018 The Interior Department proposed the most sweeping set of changes in decades to the Endangered Species Act, the law that brought the bald eagle and the Yellowstone grizzly bear back from the edge of extinction but which Republicans say is cumbersome and restricts economic development. The proposed revisions have far-reaching implications, potentially making it easier for roads, pipelines and other construction projects to gain approvals. [cite]


Trump administration officials dismissed benefits of national monuments

July 16, 2018 New documents show that as U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke conducted his four-month review, Interior officials rejected material that would justify keeping protections in place for National Monuments and sought out evidence that could buttress the case for unraveling them. Senior Interior Department officials dismissed evidence that these public lands boosted tourism and spurred archaeological discoveries, instead tailoring their survey of protected sites to emphasize the value of logging, ranching and energy development. [cite]


There could be eight times more coal mining near Bryce Canyon National Park

July 13, 2018 The Trump administration’s Bureau of Land Management released a final environmental impact statement (EIS) endorsing the proposed lease of 3,600 acres to mine nearly 45 million tons of coal just eight mmiles from Bryce Canyon National Park. It’s unclear how [the BLM] would address issues related to night-sky impacts, ambient light, air pollution, soundscape impacts for operations running 24–7, 365 days a year. [cite]


House Republicans Launch Extinction Bills Aimed at Crippling Endangered Species Act

July 12, 2018 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives announced a series of bills aimed at profoundly gutting the Endangered Species Act, including provisions making it almost impossible for imperiled species to gain protection and giving states that often oppose endangered species protection veto power over those decisions. [cite]


Trump cancels whale and sea turtle protections

July 9, 2018 The Trump administration tossed out a rule on marine protection for whales and sea turtles caught in fishing nets off the West Coast. The rule change was made despite the fishing industry’s having proposed the measures in the first place. The National Marine Fisheries Service, a division within the Commerce Department, said it decided the new protection rules were not warranted. [cite]


Pruitt grants loophole to ‘super polluting’ diesel truck manufacturers on last day at EPA

July 6, 2018 The Environmental Protection Agency granted a loophole to allow increased manufacturing of a kind of diesel freight truck known as “super polluting.” The move, which came on embattled administrator Scott Pruitt’s last day on the job, is being harshly criticized by environmentalists and lung health advocates. The agency will not enforce a previous cap on manufacturers making “glider trucks,” older engines–that do not meet modern emissions requirements–with newer truck bodies. [cite]


76 Environmental Rules on the Way Out Under Trump, So Far

July 6, 2018 The Trump administration, with help from Republicans in Congress, has often targeted environmental rules it sees as overly burdensome to the fossil fuel industry, including major Obama-era policies aimed at fighting climate change. To date, they have sought to reverse more than 70 environmental rules. [cite]


EPA blocks warnings on cancer-causing chemical

July 6, 2018 The Trump administration is suppressing an Environmental Protection Agency report that warns that most Americans inhale enough formaldehyde vapor in the course of daily life to put them at risk of developing leukemia and other ailments. The warnings are contained in a draft health assessment EPA scientists completed just before Donald Trump became president. Current EPA officials are delaying its release as part of a campaign to undermine the agency’s independent research into the health risks of toxic chemicals. [cite]


Utah oil drillers won pollution break from Pruitt

July 3, 2018 Utah oil and gas producers tried for years to get the EPA to exempt them from smog rules meant to prevent ailments like asthma. They finally got their relief after Scott Pruitt took charge of the agency, newly released emails show. The records are yet another sign that Pruitt has transformed an agency created to protect the environment into a tool for granting favors to industry. [cite]


White House seeking more clean energy cuts despite congressional opposition

June 26, 2018 The Trump administration is preparing to ask for even deeper funding cuts to clean energy research at the Energy Department – just months after Congress rejected proposed cuts to those offices, and instead appropriated funding for alternative energy research above the level the Trump administration requested. [cite]


With legal challenges pending, moves are being made to begin mining within boundaries of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

June 21, 2018 A hard rock mine that shut down when President Clinton established the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah in 1996 could soon be back in operation, as President Trump’s realignment of the monument places the mine outside its boundaries and a Canadian-based mining company has purchased the rights to it. Whether President Trump’s revised boundaries for the national monument hold up in court remains to be seen, and outside groups already are lining up to challenge the move. [cite]


Forest Service proposes changes to sage grouse protections

June 20, 2018 The U.S. Forest Service proposed changes to sage grouse protections in six Western states that call for eliminating special designations for crucial habitat as well as keeping areas open for mining. The agency also said restrictions on water development for livestock will be removed as will other requirements that could limit some livestock grazing. The plan covers 9,500 square miles of greater sage grouse habitat in Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah and Montana. [cite]


Trump just erased an Obama-era policy to protect the oceans

June 20, 2018 President Trump ended an eight-year-old policy to protect oceans, which was created as hundreds of millions of gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon well, covering more than 65,000 square miles, killing untold numbers of wildlife and devastating fisheries in several Gulf Coast states. There is no longer a national policy to promote healthy ocean ecosystems. [cite]


Pruitt grants home state coal ash regulation powers, enraging environmentalists

June 19, 2018 Environmental organizations and activists slammed the Trump administration’s decision to grant Oklahoma the nation’s first-ever permit to regulate coal ash, citing the state’s lackluster oversight record. Critics also expressed concern that the move would put residents in danger and expose them to cancerous toxins. The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) has regulated coal ash for over 20 years using federal rules, something this announcement changes. [cite]


E.P.A. Takes a Major Step to Roll Back Clean Car Rules

June 1, 2018 The Trump administration took a major step toward dramatically weakening an Obama-era rule designed to cut pollution from vehicle tailpipes, setting the stage for a legal clash with California that could potentially split the nation’s auto market in two. Its proposal rolls back climate change rules that required automakers to nearly double the fuel economy of passenger vehicles to an average of more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025. [cite]


Federal regulators vote to limit practice of measuring climate impact of pipelines

May 18, 2018 Federal regulators appeared to defy a 2017 court ruling when they decided not to take greenhouse gas emissions into account as part of their review of natural gas pipeline applications. [cite]


Trump administration ends critical NASA greenhouse gas monitoring program

May 9, 2018 The Trump administration has gutted a crucial research program run by NASA that helped monitor greenhouse gases. Without the program, experts say they will have difficulty tracking national carbon emissions. The effort measured carbon dioxide and methane using satellites and similar mechanisms. That data gathered was used both nationally and internationally. [cite]


Feds grant Utah’s largest coal producer a royalty discount worth up to $19 million

May 8, 2018 Utah’s largest coal mine is getting a fee discount worth up to $19 million after the Bureau of Land Management authorized a royalty reduction in recognition of unspecified difficulties the company faces in extracting certain deposits of coal. The BLM decision represents a substantial loss of revenue that would go to local governments. [cite]


Interior Dept declines to reimplement grizzly protections near Yellowstone

April 27, 2018 U.S. officials will not restore federal protections for Yellowstone-area grizzly bears, despite a court ruling that called into question the government’s rationale for turning grizzly management over to states that are now planning public hunts for the animals. The disclosure from the Interior Department follows a months-long review of a decision last year to lift protections in place since 1975 for about 700 bears. [cite]


Why Scott Pruitt’s decision on burning wood is so high stakes

April 23, 2018 The EPA chief declared that the burning of biomass – such as trees – for energy will be considered “carbon neutral” by the agency in many cases. Trees are largely composed of carbon. When burned, it becomes atmosphere-warming CO2. While carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of wood go into the air immediately, trees take decades or more to grow back. [cite]


White House Abruptly Orders EPA To Loosen Clean Air Rules In Polluter Giveaway

April 12, 2018 With little notice, President Donald Trump ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to dramatically overhaul national clean air standards and make it easier for industry to pollute in areas where it’s already dangerous to breathe. The executive order ― titled “Promoting Domestic Manufacturing and Job Creation ― Policies and Procedures Relating to Implementation of Air Quality Standards” ― reverses an Obama-era decision. [cite]


Senate confirms former coal lobbyist to serve as EPA’s deputy administrator

April 12, 2018 The Senate has confirmed Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, to be deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As recently as last summer, Wheeler worked as a lobbyist for Murray Energy, the largest privately-owned coal firm in the United States. Despite Wheeler’s long history of advocating for the interests of the coal industry and embracing climate science denial, his nomination was met with relatively little resistance from Congress. [cite]


Zinke’s Reassignment Of Native Americans And Climate Scientists at Interior Possibly Illegal

April 11, 2018 The reassignment of dozens of senior career Interior Department (DOI) officials last year may have violated federal law, a damning internal report found. But investigators with the DOI Inspector General’s office said they were unable to say definitively because the agency failed to properly document their reasons for ousting the employees. [cite]


EPA threatens to revoke California’s ability to set emissions standards as the Trump administration moves to abandon fuel mileage goals

April 2, 2018 The Trump administration openly threatened one of the cornerstones of California’s environmental protections, saying that it may revoke the state’s ability under the Clean Air Act to impose stricter standards than the federal government sets for vehicle emissions. The announcement came as the administration confirmed it is tearing up landmark fuel economy rules pushing automakers to manufacture cleaner burning cars and SUVs. [cite]


National Park Service warned lease sale could harm national monument in Utah

March 20, 2018 The Bureau of Land Management disregarded a request by the National Park Service that it hold off leasing 17,000 acres of public land in Utah because of concerns that drilling there could harm Hovenweep National Monument’s views and air, groundwater and sound quality. All 13 parcels were sold online as part of a broader sale, with the lease prices ranging from $3 to roughly $91 an acre. [cite]


New EPA rule gives states power to determine coal ash disposal

March 1, 2018 The Trump administration announced a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule aimed at giving states the independence to determine how to best dispose of coal ash, the toxic metal left from burning coal. More than 110 million tons of coal ash are produced annually by coal-fired power plants, according to the EPA. The move is a sharp departure from the Obama administration, which sought to better regulate disposal of the toxic metal. [cite]


Court Stops Trump Administration Attempt to Delay BLM’s Waste Prevention Rule

February 23, 2018 A U.S. District Court has ruled against Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s attempt to delay the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Waste Prevention Rule. The protections restored by this decision will help to prevent the waste of natural gas, reduce harmful methane, smog-forming and toxic pollution, and ensure communities and tribes have royalty money that can be used to construct roads and schools. [cite]


Trump wants more pipelines and fewer rangers in national parks

February 12, 2018 President Donald Trump’s FY 2019 budget recommends extreme staffing cuts of nearly 2,000 National Park Service rangers at a time when national park visitation is at an all-time high. The president’s budget proposes a drastic 16 percent cut to the Department of the Interior, which houses the National Park Service, and a cut of seven percent to the park service itself. In 2016, the national parks received record visitation rates of nearly 331 million visits. [cite]


Trump administration plan would roll back environmental reviews covering use of public lands

February 8, 2018 The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management has finalized a set of recommendations that would overhaul the way it permits energy exploration and other activities on public land by streamlining environmental reviews. Memo shows plan to steamroll environmental protections, cater to industry, shut down public input, and prioritize development over conservation on public lands. [cite]


CDC to cut global disease outbreak prevention by 80 percent

February 1, 2018 Four years after the United States pledged to help the world fight infectious disease epidemics like Ebola, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is dramatically downsizing its epidemic prevention activities in 39 out of 49 countries because money is running out. The Trump administration has not budgeted additional resources, according to global infectious disease experts. [cite]


Trump’s infrastructure plan would clear the way for pipelines through national parks

January 29, 2018 Since the 1920s, companies seeking to build pipelines through national parks have had to obtain approval from Congress — but a single provision in the Trump administration’s proposed infrastructure plan could completely upend that status quo. The change would only require approval from the secretary of the interior — a move that environmental and conservation groups derided as a giveaway to the oil and gas industry at the expense of public lands. [cite]


U.S. EPA reverses policy on ‘major sources’ of pollution

January 25, 2018 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it was withdrawing a provision of the Clean Air Act that requires a major source of pollution like a power plant to always be treated as a major source, even if it makes changes to reduce emissions. “This move drastically weakens protective limits on air pollutants like arsenic, lead, mercury and other toxins,” say environmental groups. [cite]


Groups decry oil, gas leases near Moab, Utah national parks

January 11, 2018 The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) prepares to sell oil and gas leases on more than 51,000 acres of public lands near national parks and monuments in southeastern Utah. Such auctions are held every two years. The pending public lands auction is of special concern because more than half of the 43 parcels up for lease are located in areas of known cultural and environmental sensitivity. [cite]


Trump administration is taking steps to remove a threatened lynx from the endangered-species list

January 11, 2018 The Trump administration is moving to strike the Canada lynx from the endangered-species list, despite a 2016 assessment concluding the species will die out in its northern range by the end of the century without federal protection. The administration expressed confidence the animals would survive through 2050 — though officials said they could not be certain of the lynx’s fate in its sprawling range across Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Colorado, Idaho and Washington. [cite]


Trump administration plans to allow expanded drilling off U.S. continental waters

January 4, 2018 The Trump administration unveiled a controversial plan to permit drilling in all U.S. continental shelf waters, including protected areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic. The president has long backed expanded drilling along the nation’s coasts as part of his energy plan. Coastal communities that rely on fishing and tourism have opposed drilling, and the plan faces bipartisan criticism. [cite]


Trump Administration Repeals Obama Rule Designed to Make Fracking Safer

December 29, 2017 The Trump administration is rescinding Obama-era rules designed to increase the safety of fracking. The 2015 rule required companies drilling for natural gas and oil on public lands to comply with federal safety standards in the construction of fracking wells, to disclose the chemicals used during the fracking process, and required companies to cover surface ponds that store fracking wastewater. [cite]


Trump administration eases rule against killing birds

December 22, 2017 The Interior Department has quietly rolled back a policy aimed at protecting migratory birds, stating in a solicitor’s opinion that it will no longer prosecute oil and gas, wind, and solar operators that accidentally kill birds. The new interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) marks a win for energy interests that described the federal government’s previous position as overreaching. The law in question was enacted in 1918. [cite]


Trump to slash safety regulations put in place after nation’s worst environmental disaster

December 22, 2017 During the Obama administration, the federal government took action to prevent another Deepwater Horizon-sized oil spill, widely viewed as the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. After taking office, the Trump administration immediately began making plans to relax certain offshore drilling rules implemented after the 2010 disaster. The proposal represents another component of President Donald Trump’s goal of achieving a “new era of American energy dominance,” and his desire to reduce the amount of federal regulations to the same level as 1960. [cite]


Trump Administration to Grant Mining Leases That Will Benefit Landlord of President’s Daughter Ivanka

December 22, 2017 The Trump administration said it will renew mining leases to extract copper and nickel adjacent to a Minnesota wilderness area, reversing an Obama decision and giving a victory to a Chilean billionaire who is renting a mansion to the family of the president’s daughter. [cite]


Trump Administration Rolls Back EPA Plan to Restrict Dangerous Household Chemicals

December 20, 2017 The Trump Administration has quietly delayed action on dangerous solvents that the Environmental Protection Agency had previously planned to ban. The three chemicals — TCE, NMP, and methylene chloride — are used to strip furniture, remove grease, and dry clean clothes. All three are clearly dangerous: The EPA has deemed TCE a carcinogen “by all routes of exposure,” NMP is a developmental toxin, and methylene chloride has killed at least 56 people since 1980, many of whom were stripping bathtubs. [cite]


Trump breaks with military leaders, removes climate change from list of national security threats

December 18, 2017 President Donald Trump’s new National Security Strategy, released Monday, removed all mentions of climate change as a national security threat, a decision in line with major steps taken by the administration over the past 11 months to downplay the perils of climate change. Two years ago, the Obama administration issued a strategy that identified climate change as “an urgent and growing threat to our national security.” [cite]


North Cascades grizzly bear recovery work halted by Interior Department

December 13, 2017 Work on grizzly bear recovery in the North Cascades Ecosystem has been halted even as the continental United States’ two largest grizzly populations near removal from Endangered Species Act protection. North Cascades National Park Superintendent told the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee that her staff had been asked to stop work on its environmental impact statement by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s office. The order also stalls discussions with Canadian wildlife managers who oversee a similar grizzly recovery process in British Columbia. [cite]


Interior secretary pushing controversial road project

December 9, 2017 Far down the Alaskan peninsula, where it curves into the Bering Sea, lies the remote Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. The federally protected, 492-square-mile wilderness area is home to brown bears, caribou, wolves, and, once a year, the entire world population of black brant geese. The Interior Department, led by Secretary Ryan Zinke, is pushing a plan that would – for the first time anywhere – allow a new road through a federally protected wilderness area. [cite]


Interior delays Obama-era regulation on methane emissions

December 7, 2017 The Interior Department is delaying an Obama-era regulation aimed at restricting harmful methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands. The rule forces energy companies to capture methane that’s burned off or “flared” at drilling sites because it pollutes the environment. A rule being published in the Federal Register delays the methane regulation until January 2019, saying the previous rule is overly burdensome to industry. Officials said the delay will allow the federal Bureau of Land Management time to review the earlier rule while avoiding tens of millions of dollars in compliance costs to industry that may turn out to be unnecessary. [cite]


Ryan Zinke memo signals Trump’s attack on public lands is just getting started

December 5, 2017 President Donald Trump apparently isn’t done reducing the size of national monuments. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended that Trump target at least eight more monuments for downsizing or reduced protections. In the memo, Zinke recommended that Trump revise the boundaries of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in a way that’s favorable to commercial timber. He also advised Trump to change the boundary of the Gold Butte National Monument to ensure ranchers are allowed permits to graze livestock on the land. [cite]


Trump scales back two huge national monuments in Utah, drawing protests

December 4, 2017 President Trump announced that he is drastically scaling back two national monuments established in Utah by his Democratic predecessors, the largest reduction of public lands protection in U.S. history. Trump’s move to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments by more than 1.1 million acres and more than 800,000 acres, respectively, immediately sparked an outpouring of praise from conservative lawmakers, and protests from activists outside the White House and in Utah. [cite]


Climate change is a ‘direct threat to national security,’ the defense bill says, and Trump is expected to sign it

November 22, 2017 The 1,000-page National Defense Authorization Act that Congress sent to President Trump is packed with new military policies and weapons purchases. But also tucked into the voluminous legislation is a warning about climate change, something Trump has openly ridiculed for years. Changing climate is a “direct threat” to U.S. national security, endangering 128 military bases with sea rise and global destabilization that could fuel terror groups. The bill orders a Pentagon report on the top 10 at-risk bases and what should be done to protect them. [cite]


Trump admin taking quiet steps to seize border land

November 13, 2017 Roughly two-thirds of the US-Mexico border runs through private or state-owned lands, meaning the federal government would need to purchase, seize or seek permission to use land in order to build a border wall. Although approval for a new border wall has yet to come, the Trump administration has taken subtle steps to be able to seize land to build one, including by restarting litigation that has laid dormant for years against landowners. [cite]


In unprecedented move, EPA to block scientists who get agency funding from serving as advisers

October 31, 2017 Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is poised to make wholesale changes to the agency’s key advisory group by jettisoning scientists who have received grants from the EPA and replacing them with industry experts and state government officials. The decision to bar any researcher who receives EPA grant money from serving as an adviser appears to be unprecedented. [cite]


Trump agrees to shrink national monuments

October 27, 2017 President Donald Trump plans to shrink the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments in Utah, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) announced, a change that will open parts of them to drilling and mining but which environmental groups and Native Americans are vowing to fight. Interior Secretary Zinke in September recommended unspecified boundary changes to the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante monuments, the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada, and the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon. [cite]


How Trump Is Crippling Storm Forecasting Just When It’s Getting Good

October 20, 2017 The president’s budget proposal would slash the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s budget by 16 percent, including 6 percent from the National Weather Service. Besides hampering climate research, the cuts would jeopardize satellite programs and other forecasting tools – as well as threaten the jobs of forecasters themselves. And they may undermine bipartisan legislation Trump himself signed earlier this year that mandates key steps to improve the nation’s ability to predict disasters before they happen. [cite]


Trump moves to cancel landmark Obama climate change rule

October 10, 2017 The Trump administration took its first step to undo President Barack Obama’s landmark climate change rule, fulfilling a major campaign promise but likely triggering years of court fights. The Environmental Protection Agency said it will move to repeal Obama’s Clean Power Plan, a 2015 regulation that aimed to hasten the electric power industry’s shift away from coal and toward greener sources of energy. [cite]


Trump Administration Denies Protection to Pacific Walrus Imperiled by Climate Change

October 4, 2017 The Trump administration denied Endangered Species Act protection to the Pacific walrus, which is imperiled by climate change. Today’s denial reverses an Obama administration decision that the Pacific walrus deserves protection because of the rapid loss of Arctic sea ice. The Pacific walrus needs sea ice for giving birth, nursing and resting. Over the past decade, climate change has caused summer sea ice to disappear from the walrus’s shallow foraging grounds in the Chukchi Sea. Without summer sea ice for resting, walrus mothers and calves have been forced to come ashore, where they have limited access to food and young walruses are vulnerable to predators. [cite]


Interior Department to Overhaul Obama’s Sage Grouse Protection Plan

September 28, 2017 The Interior Department intends to publish a formal notice of intent to amend 98 sage grouse habitat management plans across 10 states. Those plans, completed in 2015 during the Obama Administration, were adopted after a decade of negotiations among conservationists, sportsmen and extraction industries as well as federal, state, local and tribal authorities. The move could lead to new mineral leasing, grazing and other commercial activities across the quirky bird’s Western habitat. [cite]


Senate bill could trigger mass slaughter of wild mustangs

September 27, 2017 The fate of thousands of wild horses hangs in the balance as the Senate considers an amendment to a spending bill that would allow euthanasia of mustangs and burros roaming free on land owned by the federal government. The roundup is the result of a lawsuit settled by the state of Utah over wild horses encroaching on ranch land. The amendment would allow the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to sell excess wild horses without an assurance they wouldn’t be slaughtered. [cite]


EPA head met with a mining CEO – and then pushed forward a controversial mining project

September 22, 2017 Within hours of meeting with a mining company CEO in May, the new head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, directed his staff to withdraw a plan to protect the watershed of Bristol Bay, Alaska, one of the most valuable wild salmon fisheries on Earth. In 2014, after three years of peer-reviewed study, the Obama administration’s EPA invoked a rarely used provision of the Clean Water Act to try to protect Bristol Bay after finding that a mine “would result in complete loss of fish habitat.” [cite]


Trump administration removes links to taxpayer-funded climate data on USGS website

September 18, 2017 In its relatively short time in power, the Trump administration has made no attempt to hide its disdain for studying, communicating, and acting on the threat posed by climate change. Rather than simply ignore the scientific information and research accessible to the public, however, the administration instead has chosen to remove climate data and references to climate change from government websites. In the process, they’ve gone to “shocking” and “distressing” levels to hide the truth from the American public — who, it must be remembered, funded all this research. [cite]


Scott Pruitt says EPA will reconsider rule safeguarding communities from coal ash

September 13, 2017 The Environmental Protection Agency plans to “reconsider” portions of a 2015 rule that provides safeguards for communities located near toxic coal ash waste sites, agency administrator Scott Pruitt said in a letter to industry officials. The clean water protections that Pruitt now wants to revisit marked the first substantive steps the EPA has taken to protect the public from coal ash. Coal ash has high levels of toxic heavy metals like arsenic, mercury, and lead. [cite]


EPA postpones implementation of Obama-era toxic wastewater rules for coal plants

September 13, 2017 The Environmental Protection Agency officially postponed rules limiting toxic water pollution from coal-fired power plants, a move that environmental groups are calling a gift to the coal industry and owners of coal-fired power plants. The EPA’s move “resets the clock” for the toxic wastewater guidelines, providing relief to power plant owners from existing regulatory deadlines while the agency studies the regulation. The plants now will have until November 1, 2020 to comply with the rule, instead of November 1, 2018. [cite]


The Federal Land Freedom Act Limits Freedom Outdoors

September 11, 2017 A new bill introduced to Congress seeks to remove federal oversight of oil and gas drilling on public land, thereby allowing that industry to circumvent environmental regulations. It could also limit public access to that public land. The Federal Land Freedom Act does for freedom on federal lands what the Patriot Act does for patriotism. Under the guise of states’ rights, limited government, and energy independence, they’re attempting to sell off public lands for energy development. [cite]


BLM to auction oil and gas leases next to Utah’s Dinosaur National Monument and in San Rafael Swell

September 1, 2017 Federal land managers are moving forward with a proposed sale of controversial oil and gas leases in Utah’s San Rafael Swell and on the doorstep of Dinosaur National Monument. The move comes despite misgivings from Uintah County and National Park Service officials, who fear that energy development would detract from Dinosaur’s scenic allure. Many of the leases cover places along the western reefs of the San Rafael Swell that were the focus of a leasing controversy in 2013. The BLM pulled them from consideration in response to concerns about rock art sites the agency had not surveyed. [cite]


The Trump Administration is Muzzling the National Park Service

August 28, 2017 Administration officials inside the Department of the Interior literally deleted NPS Acting Director Michael Reynolds’s comments on proposed legislation that would allow hunters to kill bear cubs in their dens, prevented the NPS from regulating commercial fishing within national parks, and forbidden Park Service officials from even commenting on development projects outside Park boundaries that could negatively impact the parks. Agency officials were also told they could not repeat their concerns to Congress. [cite]


Interior Secretary Proposes Shrinking Four National Monuments

August 24, 2017 Parts of a sprawling region of red-rock canyons in southern Utah known as Bears Ears National Monument and at least three other national monuments would lose their strict protection and could be reopened for new mining or drilling under proposals submitted to President Trump by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Along with Bears Ears, Mr. Zinke had proposed reducing the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, also in southern Utah, as well as Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. A fourth is presently unnamed. [cite]


Trump administration halts research on mountaintop removal’s health effects

August 21, 2017 The two-year project, “Potential Human Health Effects of Surface Coal Mining Operations in Central Appalachia,” began this year when an ad hoc committee of public health, mining, and earth science experts was brought together to “conduct a study to examine the potential relationship between increased health risks and living in proximity to sites that have been or are being mined or reclaimed for surface coal deposits,” according to a project description. Total funding for the project was $1 million over two years. [cite]


Trump Disbands a Federal Panel Aimed at Fighting Climate Change

August 20, 2017 The Trump administration has chosen to disband a federal advisory panel aimed at guiding public and private-sector officials in understanding the findings of the government’s reports on the climate. The 15-person Advisory Committee for Sustained National Climate Assessment, which is comprised of academics, industry, government and local officials, was established in 2015 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). [cite]


Trump to revoke Obama-era flood risk building standards

August 15, 2017 President Donald Trump will revoke an Obama-era executive order that required strict building standards for government-funded projects to reduce exposure to increased flooding from sea level rise. The Trump administration has issued dozens of rules and orders to reverse or rescind Obama-era regulations addressing climate change and its consequences such as rising sea levels and more severe storms. [cite]


Protected Under Obama, the Sage Grouse Once Again Finds Itself Under Threat

August 7, 2017 The Department of the Interior published new recommendations for how the government should regulate land where greater sage grouse live. The recommendations walk back protections set for the bird in 2015. The report suggests new policies on oil leasing and development on federal lands, allowing states to set their own population goals for sage grouse, and investigating whether to change or undo so-called “Sagebrush Focal Areas.” [cite]


Privatized campsites? Many fear prices could skyrocket

August 6, 2017 U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says government shouldn’t be in the business of running campgrounds, so he wants to turn national park campsites over to private businesses. A handful of companies already run campsites, lodging and concessions throughout the U.S. park system, but some fear widespread privatization could make recreation and camping prohibitively expensive in Western states. [cite]


Senate Logging Bill Attacks National Forest Protections, Wildlife

August 4, 2017 Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced legislation that would devastate America’s national forests by rubber-stamping large logging projects and severely limiting public comment and disclosure of environmental damage from unfettered logging. This bill is similar to Rep. Bruce Westerman’s bill (H.R. 2936), which also aims to significantly limit public input and scientific environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. Thune’s bill would allow logging projects affecting up to 10,000 acres—15 square miles—to be rushed through without meaningful public involvement or scientific evaluation of potential harm to wildlife and the environment. [cite]


Homeland Security To Waive Environmental Rules On Border Wall Projects

August 1, 2017 The Department of Homeland Security announced that it will use its authority to bypass environmental laws and other regulations to “ensure the expeditious construction of barriers and roads” near the U.S.-Mexico border south of San Diego. By using the waiver, it would be able to avoid the legal requirement to complete an environmental impact study before building on public lands. In fact, the agency says it has “the authority to waive all legal requirements.” [cite]


Trump administration officially files to make it easier to frack public lands

July 24, 2017 The Department of the Interior intends to repeal an Obama-era rule designed to prevent fracking companies operating on public lands from polluting water supplies. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) submitted a proposed revocation to the Federal Register to wipe from the books a rule that required fracking operators on public lands to disclose chemicals used in fracking and to ensure certain precautions are taken around clean water sources. [cite]


Forest Service issues draft decision to OK use of National Forest System lands for pipeline

July 22, 2017 The U.S. Forest Service issued a draft record of decision to authorize the use and occupancy of National Forest System lands for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and approve project-specific forest plan amendments for the Monongahela National Forest and George Washington National Forest. This allows the ACP to construct and operate 21 miles of the pipeline route that would cross National Forest System lands. [cite]


Interior orders review of rules that prohibit killing bear cubs and wolf pups with their mothers

July 21, 2017 The Trump administration has ordered a review of federal rules that prevent hunters from killing bears and wolves using techniques many people consider extreme: baiting the animals with greasy doughnuts, ambushing mothers with pups in dens and shooting them from boats while the bears are swimming. The action is separate from a March vote along party lines in Congress to rescind the Obama administration’s order late last year, which outlawed the prioritizing of prey over predators at 16 federal wildlife refuges in Alaska. [cite]


Interior Secretary Zinke’s latest gift to the oil and gas industry might be illegal

July 5, 2017 Attorneys general from California and New Mexico filed a lawsuit over Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s postponement of the Bureau of Land Management’s methane waste prevention rule. The suit holds that the Interior Department’s failure to implement the rule will cost California taxpayers substantial royalty payments and furthers the Trump administration’s attack on public health. [cite]


RIP, Clean Water Rule that protects the drinking water of 1 in 3 Americans

June 22, 2017 The Trump administration has officially begun repealing the Clean Water Rule, which was finalized by the Obama administration in 2015. The proposed repeal signals the first step in the Trump administration’s promise to rescind and rewrite the regulation. The Clean Water Rule was the Obama administration’s clarification of what exactly constitutes a “navigable” body of water, and it was largely based on an opinion from a 2006 Supreme Court decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. [cite]


Yellowstone Grizzly Bear to Lose Endangered Species Protection

June 22, 2017 After 42 years on the endangered species list, the Yellowstone grizzly bear — whose numbers have grown to more than 700 from fewer than 150 — will lose its protected status, the Interior Department announced. The protection of endangered species is highly political, especially in the West. There are numerous proposals by Republicans to change the law, including a bill that would require congressional approval to add a species to the list. [cite]


Interior Secretary defends his plan to cut at least 4,000 staff

June 21, 2017 During his first week on the job, Zinke promised to “focus on rebuilding our parks,” but the administration’s proposed budget instead cuts the park service by almost $300 million. The park service’s own budget justification says that they would be forced to cut 1,242 full-time equivalent employees, a number that, in practice, could end up being much higher because many park rangers and other employees are seasonal or part-time. This would likely result in closed campgrounds and other facilities at a time when national park visitation is at an all-time high and is an economic boon to local communities. [cite]


Interior head says public lands can make U.S. a ‘dominant’ oil power

June 16, 2017 Boosting drilling and mining on America’s protected federal lands can help the United States become not just independent, but “dominant” as a global energy force, according to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, whose agency manages about one-fifth of U.S. territory. [cite]


Trump Administration Cancels New Protection For Endangered Whales, Marine Mammals & Sea Turtles

June 12, 2017 It was announced that the United States government cancelled the proposed limits on the number of endangered whales, dolphins and sea turtles that can be injured or killed by gillnets on the West Coast. The now defunct rule would have applied to less than 20 fishing vessels that use monstrous fishing nets to catch swordfish in California and Oregon. [cite]


Ignoring governors, Interior Department looks to undo local conservation plans

June 8, 2017 Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed a secretarial order launching a review of dozens of Western state conservation plans. The plans played a critical role in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s determination that the now iconic greater sage grouse did not need the protection of the Endangered Species Act and instead included local coalitions in the creation of tailored conservation plans. [cite]


Over resident opposition, Trump administration approves Atlantic blasting

June 5, 2017 The approval specifically allows “the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals” by five companies seeking to test the waters of the Atlantic for oil reserves. Seismic testing is a method for determining the composition of the ocean floor by tracking the reverberations of extremely loud sonic booms underwater. The practice is known to disrupt aquatic life, including fish, sea turtles, and mammals such as whales, and an “incidental take” permit is required. [cite]


Trump on Paris accord: ‘We’re getting out’

June 1, 2017 President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord, a major step that fulfills a campaign promise while seriously dampening global efforts to curb global warming. The decision amounts to a rebuttal of the worldwide effort to pressure Trump to remain a part of the agreement, which 195 nations signed onto. Foreign leaders, business executives and Trump’s own daughter lobbied heavily for him to remain a part of the deal, but ultimately lost out to conservatives who claim the plan is bad for the United States. [cite]


EPA halts Obama-era methane emissions rule for oil and gas industry

May 31, 2017 The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency ordered a halt to an Obama-era rule created to reduce methane leaks from new and modified oil and natural gas drilling wells. Scientists have found that in the United States, methane leaks and venting have nullified any emissions benefit from transitioning the electricity sector from coal to natural gas-fired power plants. [cite]


House votes to undo pesticide protections for nation’s waterways

May 24, 2017 The U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that dismantles a pesticide permitting system. Under the bill, anyone applying a pesticide that the Environmental Protection Agency has approved under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act would no longer require a Clean Water Act “general permit.” Pesticide manufacturers have long championed a bill similar to this one that would allow pesticides to be sprayed directly into water bodies. Opponents say Republican-led bill takes away the public’s right to know about pesticides. [cite]


The EPA just buried its climate change website for kids

May 6, 2017 The Environmental Protection Agency has sidelined a website aimed at teaching schoolchildren about climate change as part of the agency’s efforts to align online content with the new administration’s values. The youth-oriented resource of more than 50 pages, which features educational videos and shows students how to calculate their own carbon footprint, has not been removed. But it is now very difficult for a casual reader to locate, even through a Google search. [cite]


BLM suspends Resource Advisory Council meetings as part of national review of committees

May 4, 2017 Following an order by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the Bureau of Land Management has suspended public Resource Advisory Councils until September as part of a national review of the agency’s advisory boards and committees. At the very time they’re discussing major land management changes—eliminating monuments and increasing the pace of development—they’re also choosing to shutout stakeholders. The order affects more than 200 federal advisory bodies across the country. [cite]


EPA website removes climate science site from public view after two decades

April 28, 2017 The Environmental Protection Agency announced that its website would be “undergoing changes” to better represent the new direction the agency is taking, triggering the removal of several agency websites containing detailed climate data and scientific information. One of the websites that appeared to be gone had been cited to challenge statements made by the EPA’s new administrator, Scott Pruitt. Another provided detailed information on the previous administration’s Clean Power Plan, including fact sheets about greenhouse gas emissions on the state and local levels and how different demographic groups were affected by such emissions. [cite]


Presidential Executive Order Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy

April 28, 2017 President Donald Trump, joined by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Members of Congress from coastal states, signed the America First Offshore Energy Executive Order. The order aims to expand offshore oil and gas exploration and production in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) through a review of the five-year leasing program and reconsideration of certain regulations pertaining to offshore energy potential. The order also directs the Secretary of the Interior to implement a streamlined permitting approach for privately funded seismic data collection to determine offshore energy resource potential. “I am going to lift the restrictions on American energy, and allow this wealth to pour into our communities,” said Trump. [cite]


Trump to order review of Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante

April 24, 2017 President Donald Trump this week will order a review of national monument designations — including southern Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante — as part of a wide look at a century-old law that allows presidents to set aside federal lands without congressional approval. Trump will sign an executive order to demand that the Interior Department secretary examine all national monument designations in the past 21 years to discern whether their size and scope are within the law’s intent. [cite] EO signed by Trump April 27, 2017.


EPA Administrator Sends Clean Power Plan Guidance Letter to Governors

March 30, 2017 Fulfilling his promise of cooperative federalism and acting on President Trump’s Energy Independence Executive Order, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt sent letters to state governors advising them that they are under no obligation to adhere to the Clean Power Plan (CPP) rule. [cite]


Trump’s EPA Chief Chooses Not to Ban Dow Chemical Pesticide

March 30, 2017 The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has rejected calls to ban one of the nation’s most widely used pesticides, which is manufactured by Dow Chemical and described by scientists as dangerous to the health of farm workers. Scientists allege that contact with chlorpyrifos (Lorsban), which has been used by farmers for decades to kill pests on crops and was prohibited for household use in 2000, poses risks to fetal brain and nervous system development and can lead to autism. [cite]


Trump just gutted U.S. policies to fight climate change

March 28, 2017 This executive order is more than just a repeal and rework of the Clean Power Plan, Obama’s signature domestic climate policy and Trump’s preferred scapegoat for the declining coal industry. The order also seeks to repeal rules regarding fracking on public lands, and coal leases on federal lands. It orders agencies to reconsider the Social Cost of Carbon and rescinds an Obama-era order requiring agencies to consider the impact of climate change in their environmental permitting process. And it undoes four executive actions meant to make the federal government — and communities — more prepared to handle the consequences of climate change. [cite]


Congress Makes It Legal To Shoot Hibernating Bear Families In Their Dens

March 21, 2017 The U.S. Senate voted 52-47 to allow barbaric hunting tactics such as killing hibernating bear families in their dens on 76 million acres of federal wildlife refuges in Alaska. The House passed the measure last month. Hunters will be able to legally enter bear and wolf dens to kill mothers and their young cubs and pups. Hunters will also be allowed to shoot bears from airplanes. Steel-jawed leghold traps will also be allowed on these national lands. [cite]


White House Budget Proposes Sweeping Cuts To EPA, Environmental Programs

March 16, 2017 The White House proposed steep, sweeping cuts to federal climate change initiatives, including axing the Environmental Protection Agency budget by 31 percent. It eliminates funding for regional cleanup efforts in the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay, for example, and defunds the Clean Power Plan, the federal government’s only major effort to reduce carbon emissions from the utility sector. [cite]


Interior Department to withdraw Obama-era fracking rule

March 15, 2017 The Trump administration plans to withdraw and rewrite a 2015 rule aimed at limiting hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” on public lands, the Interior Department indicated in court filings. The move represents the latest effort by the new administration to ease restraints on oil and gas production in the United States. [cite]


Trump’s plan to roll back Obama’s fuel economy rules for cars

March 15, 2017 Bit by bit, President Trump is starting to rewrite the multitude of policies the Obama administration put in place to fight global warming. Today’s target is a big one: the fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks. At an event with automakers in Michigan, Trump is announcing that he’ll tell the EPA to redo Obama standards. They might try to relax the schedule for efficiency improvements. [cite]


EPA chief Scott Pruitt says carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming

March 9, 2017 EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said March 9th he does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming. “I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” he told CNBC. [cite]


Congress lets polluters dictate where drilling, mining happens

March 7, 2017 Americans are allowed to weigh in by attending public meetings to voice their concerns in person or send comments in to the agency creating a land management plan. This keeps fossil fuel interests in check, allowing us to preserve some of the more sacred and wild places that we have deemed “too wild to drill.” The repealing of this rule could gift the fate of our public lands to special interests, forever. [cite]


Trump’s interior secretary reverses ban on lead ammo on national wildlife refuges as his first official act

March 3, 2017 So much for sober-minded consultation, careful study of the data, and thoughtful analysis from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists and other experts on his staff. Before the chair in his office was even warm, and just after he dismounted from his horse, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke undid a director’s order to phase out the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle over the next five years on more than 150 million acres of National Wildlife Refuges and other agency lands and waterways. [cite]


EPA Scraps Rule Requiring Oil And Gas Industry To Report Methane Pollution

March 2, 2017 In May, the Environmental Protect Agency issued a new rule requiring oil and gas companies to report what equipment they use and how much methane ― a greenhouse gas 40 times more potent than carbon dioxide ― their drilling sites emit. Today, the agency’s newly sworn-in administrator, Scott Pruitt, scrapped this regulation deemed crucial to cutting planet-warming emissions as part of the Paris climate deal. [cite]


Trump begins dismantling Obama’s EPA rules. Step one: the Clean Water Rule

February 28, 2017 The Clean Water Rule is a technical regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency to clarify which streams and wetlands fall under federal clean water protections — a question that had been causing legal confusion for years. Now Donald Trump has signed an executive order that asks new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to begin the long process of repealing the rule and replacing it with… something else. [cite]


New EPA head takes action — delaying a mining clean-up rule

February 27, 2017 In one of his first acts of business, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt directed his new staff to delay an initiative that would require mining companies to prove they can clean up after themselves. The order would require companies to prove they will be able to clean up the damage caused by routine mining activities. The order was an effort to reduce liability to taxpayers and improve environmental practices at mines. [cite]


The NRA just persuaded Congress to legalize the killing of bear cubs in wildlife refuges

February 16, 2017 The U.S. House of Representatives voted Feb. 16, 2017 to legalize the killing of black bear cubs and their mothers at their dens in Alaska’s national wildlife refuges. The controversial measure, backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), overturns a ‘Fair Chase’ rule that limited baiting, trapping, and the use of airplanes to track and shoot bears and wolves on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands in Alaska. The vote was met with an outpouring of criticism from wildlife and conservation groups. [cite]


Why We Need the EPA

February 14, 2017 Let’s not forget what America looked like before we had the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Our rivers caught on fire, our air was full of smog, and it stank (literally). A collective memory lapse seems to have descended on lawmakers who seek to dismantle an agency that has transformed American life for the better. Since the EPA’s founding in 1970, concentrations of common air pollutants, like sulfur dioxide, have dropped as much as 67 percent. The EPA helped mitigate catastrophes like acid rain, leaded gasoline, and DDT. [cite]


Congress moves to restrict public input on public land planning

February 7, 2017 The House of Representatives voted to roll back a rule that gives local citizens a greater voice in the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) planning process, a process that directs how 245 million acres of public land are utilized. Many local communities support the planning rule that the House voted to roll back, counting it as a tool to strengthen their voice in land use planning. [cite]


Congress’ repeal of Obama methane rule will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions

February 3, 2017 Congress voted to undo a measure that cuts air pollution, prevents the waste of taxpayer dollars, and curbs climate change-causing pollution. The Bureau of Land Management’s methane waste prevention rule limits venting, flaring, and leaking of methane — the main component in natural gas — from oil and gas operations on public lands. Repealing the rule is expected to result in the waste of $330 million in taxpayer-owned gas annually. [cite]


A Small Victory: Chaffetz Withdraws HR 621

February 1, 2017 An outcry was prompted in part by Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (R-UT) introduction of a bill (HR 621) to sell off 3.3 million acres of public lands — an area the size of Connecticut. February 1st Chaffetz announced that he was withdrawing the bill. Chaffetz had previously claimed that the millions of acres of public lands from 10 states that could be up for sale to private interests “serve no purpose for taxpayers,” an assertion that protesters, public lands advocates, and now Chaffetz himself dispute. [cite]


House votes to strike down Obama-era Stream Protection Rule

February 1, 2017 Regulators and environmentalists have said the rule helps protect waterways from the effects of mountaintop mining pollution and prevents negative health impacts for people living in those areas. But the coal industry — already suffering due to market conditions in the energy sector — says the rule will hurt companies and their employees. [cite]


Obama-era climate change information removed from State Department website

January 25, 2017 Various pages mentioning climate change have been removed from the State Department website, including pages outlining the United States’ contribution to the U.N. Green Climate Fund, a page detailing America’s commitment to making climate data available for both local and international partners, the State Department’s Climate Action Report, and an overview of the Global Climate Change Initiative. [cite]


What We Actually Lose When the USDA and EPA Can’t Talk to the Public

January 24, 2017 The EPA is now barred from communicating with the public by Donald Trump. That means no press releases, blogs, messages, or social media postings. Additionally, the US Department of Agriculture has banned scientists and other employees in its Agricultural Research Service division from sharing the results of its taxpayer-funded research with the broader public, another gag order from Trump. Scientific inquiry is meant to produce hard facts that the world can rely on. But the easiest way to make science lie is to keep the public from learning it. [cite]


Trump advances Keystone XL, Dakota Access pipelines with executive order

January 24, 2017 President Donald Trump has taken steps to advance construction on two oil pipeline projects that have been fiercely disputed and were delayed under his predecessor. Trump has signed an executive order that will make it easier for TransCanada to construct the Keystone XL pipeline and for Energy Transfer Partners to build the final uncompleted portion of the Dakota Access pipeline. [cite]


The first update to the new Trump White House website rolls back Clean Air and Water

January 20, 2017 For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry. President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule. The Trump Administration will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution… We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands that the American people own. The Trump Administration is also committed to clean coal technology, and to reviving America’s coal industry. [cite]


GOP targets landmark Endangered Species Act for big changes

January 17, 2017 In control of Congress and soon the White House, Republicans are readying plans to roll back the influence of the Endangered Species Act, one of the government’s most powerful conservation tools, after decades of complaints that it hinders drilling, logging and other activities. Over the past eight years, GOP lawmakers sponsored dozens of measures aimed at curtailing the landmark law or putting species such as gray wolves and sage grouse out of its reach. Almost all were blocked by Democrats and the White House or lawsuits from environmentalists. [cite]


The House just made it a lot easier to sell off national parks

January 4, 2017 The House now officially values public lands at $0. A new rule, written by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), establishes as fact that any legislation to dispose of public lands and natural resources would cost taxpayers exactly $0. This paves the way for the new Congress to get rid of vast swaths of public lands — all at the expense of the American taxpayer. [cite]


Congress takes quick shot at transferring federal public lands to local interests

January 3, 2017 The 115th Congress got off to an eye-opening start on their very first day, voting in favor of facilitating transfers of some federal public lands and waters to state, local and private interests. The provision would designate any transfer legislation “budget neutral,” eliminating existing safeguards against undervaluing public lands, disregarding any revenue or economic benefits currently generated and paving the way for quick and discreet giveaways of valuable lands and waters – including national forests, wildlife refuges and BLM lands – historically owned by the American people. [cite]