Department of the Interior

Our Common Ground

New book on history of federal public lands is an essential contribution

America’s public lands are a national, and even international, treasure.  Over a quarter of the United States is owned and managed by the federal government.  Public lands provide recreational opportunities for all Americans.  They provide valuable habitat for species and ecosystems.  They provide important natural resources, such as timber and minerals, that are both important …


Trump Administration to Hold California Hearing on Offshore Oil Drilling Proposal

Sacramento Hearing Likely to Be Both a Raucous and Fundamentally Flawed Affair

Legal Planet colleague Eric Biber this week has published a series of posts on the Trump Administration’s controversial–and deeply flawed–proposal to open most of the nation’s Outer Continental Shelf to offshore oil and gas development.  I won’t attempt to retread the ground Eric has ably covered, but want to highlight a major upcoming and related event …


Interior doubles down on contempt for government integrity

Newly appointed acting National Park Service chief improperly allowed removal of trees from NPS easement

We know that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has little regard for government rules — the Navy SEAL career he is so fond of touting was derailed because he misused government funds for personal travel; he has continued to flout travel regulations and restrictions on political activity by government employees in his present job; …


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 …


Guest Blogger Justin Pidot: Two Years after Gold King Disaster, Trump Would Slash Funding for Abandoned Mines Cleanup

Congress Should Ensure that Money Is Available to Address Pollution on Public Lands

In recent legal battles, the State of Utah has rarely sided with the environment.  It is a significant moment, therefore, when Utah files a lawsuit aimed to force polluters to pay for contamination they have caused, as it did last week when it sued mine owners and contractors for the EPA related to the Gold …


Addressing Climate Change Without Legislation

A new report from UC Berkeley looks at the underused powers of the US Department of the Interior.

Now that the Environmental Protection Agency has announced its proposed rules for restricting greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, the climate focus of EPA and the states will first be on polishing the rules for final approval, then on the anticipated law suits, and then on the development of state plans to meet the …


Obama Administration Proposes Merging NOAA’s Endangered Species Act Functions Into Department of the Interior

As reported in today’s Wall Street Journal, President Obama has proposed a major government reorganization merging into a single, cabinet-level agency federal trade and commerce responsibilities currently dispersed among a number of different agencies and departments. These reforms, which would require the consent of Congress to implement, would increase government efficiency and reduced federal expenditures. …


Oil Shale, Greenhouse Gas, and Federal Lands

Back in 2005, a Rand report assessed the merits of pursuing oil shale (a rock formation particularly prevalent in the U.S.) as an option for extracting liquid transportation fuel. The authors said: “Heating oil shale for retorting, whether above ground or in situ, requires significant energy inputs. Over at least the next few decades, this …


David Nawi Appointed to High-Ranking USDOI Post

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has named a respected California environmental lawyer to serve in a key, newly-created Department of Interior post. Salazar appointed David Nawi as his Senior Advisor to the Secretary for California and Nevada. In his announcement selecting Nawi, Secretary Salazar stated, “The current water crisis and land management challenges …