Interior Department

Public Lands Watch: Fire Appropriations and 2018 Omnibus

2018 Omnibus bill expands future funding for fire suppression efforts, and streamlines environmental review for some timber projects

Tom Schumann helped draft this blog post. The 2018 budget act signed into law on March 23, 2018 will increase the funding available for wildfire suppression, enabling the Forest Service and Interior Department to respond to ever more severe fires while easing the strain on their overall budgets. Before the new law, Congress limited appropriations …

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Public Lands Watch: Izembek National Wildlife Refuge

Interior Department proposes to authorize road through wildlife refuge in Alaska

Tom Schumann authored this blog post. News outlets report that the Interior Department, reversing a decision made under President Obama, has agreed to a land exchange with an Alaska Native village that would allow construction of a road across a national wildlife refuge that provides important habitat for migratory birds, bears, caribou, and other species. …

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What’s in Trump’s Proclamations on Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments

An analysis of the new proclamations and the legal issues they raise

On Monday, President Trump signed two proclamations, downsizing the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah. These two proclamations are the first official acts by Trump to implement the recommendations from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s national monuments review this summer. (Zinke’s final report and recommendations were just made public yesterday. In a short …

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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: Repeal of Interior valuation rule

Interior Department repeals Obama Administration reforms to the prices paid by energy companies for public oil, gas, and coal resources

The Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONNR) of the Interior Department published a final rule in the Federal Register earlier this week on August 7th, 2017, that the Department is repealing the “Consolidated Federal Oil & Gas and Federal & Indian Coal Valuation Reform Final Rule.” The 2017 Valuation Rule was published on July 1, …

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Where does NOAA belong?

Cross-posted at CPRBlog. Clearly I need to slow down Rick’s internet connection to get him to stop scooping me. Rick reported earlier today that the President has floated a proposal to reorganize the Commerce Department and related agencies which would apparently include moving NOAA (all of NOAA, according to OMB’s Jeffrey Zeints, not just its …

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Supreme Court won’t hear critical habitat cases

Cross-posted at CPRBlog. The Supreme Court today denied certiorari on two Endangered Species Act cases, Arizona Cattle Growers Association v. Salazar and Home Builders Association of Northern California v. US Fish and Wildlife Service. The cases were considered together because they raise the same issue: how the economic impacts of critical habitat designation should be …

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Solar Energy on the Fast Track

Yesterday, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Nevada Senator Harry Reid announced a series of initiatives to create a “fast track” for the development of utility scale solar energy facilities on Western public lands.  This will include designating certain tracts of land as especially promising based on solar potential and land use compatibility, funding environmental …

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Another environmental lawyer joins the administration

Michael J. Bean, longtime head of Environmental Defense Fund’s wildlife program and author of the classic treatise The Evolution of National Wildlife Law, has been named counselor to Tom Strickland, Assistant Secretary of Interior for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. Bean will provide advice on endangered species and other wildlife policy issues. This appointment is very …

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Executive Branch Agreement on Mountaintop Removal: A Positive Step, but Only a Step

Cross-posted with permission from CPRBlog. Over the past few months, the Obama Administration has sent mixed signals on mountaintop mining, the practice of blowing the tops off mountains containing coal and piling the left-over rubble in valleys and streambeds. Early on, things seemed to be going well for the environment. First, EPA objected to the …

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