Trump team stops asking drillers and miners to pay for damage to federal lands

For years, whenever companies wanted to drill for oil and dig for coal on federally owned lands, they often had to pay to offset any damage their activities had on the environment.

Now, no more. This week the Trump administration scrapped long-standing requirements that companies undertaking energy development and other work on Bureau of Land Management lands make up for any damage by paying the federal government or by purchasing new land to set aside for conservation.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has criticized the concept of “compensatory mitigation,” singling out the practice at a speech before the Western Governors Association.

A new memorandum published Tuesday by BLM, a division of the Interior Department that manages 245 million acres of land or about one-tenth of the nation’s landmass, seeks to strike the practice entirely. “Except where the law specifically requires,” it reads, “the BLM must not require compensatory mitigation from public land users.”

Environmentalists regard such mitigation policies as a bedrock remedy for ecologically destructive development.

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