Biodiversity & Species

Public Lands Watch: HR 4239

House bill would give states control of oil and gas leasing process, weaken Presidential power to restrict leasing

Tom Schumann drafted this blog post. Provisions tucked in a House oil and gas development bill would repeal one of the oldest conservation laws and scale back another. The provisions show House Republicans working to make rollbacks by the Trump Administration permanent, consistent with the administration’s “America First” energy campaign. H.R. 4239, reported out of […]

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Public Lands Watch: ANWR and Monuments Updates

Updates on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and National Monuments

Two updates on issues that we have been following. First, the Senate passed a tax bill that opens up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development – though an initial version of that provision which would have relaxed environmental review of development in the refuge was stripped out.  The bill likely will […]

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The Top 10 Things to Be Thankful For (Environmental Version)

It hasn’t been a good year, to say the least. But there are some things to be thankful for.

Overall, it’s been a pretty lousy year since last Thanksgiving.  If you care about the environment, there are a lot of things NOT to be thankful for, or rather one big thing in the form of He Who Must Not Be Named. But there are also some  things for which we should feel thankful, many  of […]

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ESA Under Attack. Again.

The Washington Post tomorrow is running an Op Ed written with Peter Alagona, a colleague in environmental studies at UCSB. We were approached by the Post and asked to write a piece addressing the current raft of bills that seek to weaken the Endangered Species Act and sharing our views about alternatives. With a tight limit […]

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Public Lands Watch: Resilient Federal Forests Act

Bill to reduce environmental protections for timber management on federal lands passes House

The Resilient Federal Forests Act (RFFA), H.R. 2936—which would curb environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for a variety of forest management activities on National Forest and BLM lands—passed the House November 1. (We previously wrote about a version of this bill in committee here.) NEPA requires agencies to consider whether proposed […]

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A Major Defeat for Property Rights Advocates

Hardly anyone noticed a decision last June limiting the rights of property owners against regulators.

Murr v. Wisconsin was a sleeper case decided by the Supreme Court last June. But it deserves a lot more attention than it has gotten. As I discuss in a new paper, Murr was a major defeat for property rights advocates and a big win for land use planners and environmentalists. Murr has escaped much […]

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Public Lands Watch: Sage grouse

Interior Dept. considering revisions to protection for iconic species

The greater sage-grouse is the largest grouse species in North America, about the size of a domestic chicken.  Estimates for its historic population are that it numbered 1.1 million across the sagebrush plains throughout the Western United States and Canada.  The grouse depends on sagebrush habitat, but that habitat is declining due to a range […]

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Public Lands Watch: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Senate budget resolution being considered this week could open refuge to oil drilling

One of the longest lasting fights over the federal public lands has been whether to open up portions of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas development. The Refuge is one of the most important and largest protected areas in North America – it is unusual in that it protects the […]

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Ryan Zinke’s Troubling Remarks Undercut Dept. of Interior’s Core Mission

Comments to Oil Trade Association Attack Agency Staff, Dismiss Environmental Safeguards

At a recent meeting of the American Petroleum Institute (the national oil company trade association), Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke made clear some of his plans for the Department of the Interior.  According to AP reporting, he called almost 1/3 of employees disloyal, said he plans to speed up oil and logging permits, and revealed a […]

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Zinke’s Report Recommends Downsizing or Loosening Restrictions in 10 National Monuments

Report Lacks Details on Boundaries but Recommends Management Changes to Permit Wider Range of Uses

Late last night, the Washington Post reported that Secretary Ryan Zinke had recommended making changes–by downsizing and/or by loosening restrictions–to a total of 10 national monuments. The list of monuments goes beyond what had been reported last month. The Post released a leaked copy of Zinke’s recommendations that were submitted to President Trump on August […]

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