Tag Archives: Department of the Interior

In ‘Brutal Blow’ to Wildlife and Gift to Big Oil, Trump Finalizes Rollback of Migratory Bird Treaty Act

“The Trump administration is signing the death warrants of millions of birds across the country.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-5-2021

A pied-billed grebe on an oil-covered evaporation pond at a commercial oilfield wastewater disposal facility. An estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 migratory birds die each year in oilfield production skim pits and oil-covered evaporation ponds.(Photo: USFWS Mountain Prairie/Flickr/cc)

Just over two weeks before President Donald Trump is set to leave the White House, his U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday finalized a rollback of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act—a law that’s been in place since 1918 and which conservation groups credit with holding corporate polluters accountable for harming bird species.

In what the Western Values Project called a “parting gift to Big Oil by corrupt former oil lobbyist Interior Secretary David Bernhardt,” the USFWS announced a new rule under which the federal government will no longer penalize or prosecute companies when their actions cause the inadvertent death of birds. Continue reading

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Under Cover of Thanksgiving, Trump Administration Pushes to Relax Rules Protecting Birds

The proposal—which the administration admits would likely lead to more avian deaths—would let energy and other companies off the hook for “incidentally” killing birds.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-27-2020

A Bohemian waxwing spotted in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory on December 27, 2012. (Photo: Keith Williams/Flickr/cc)

Despite acknowledging that the move would lead to an increase in the 500 million to one billion birds that die each year in the United States due to human activity, the Trump administration on Friday published a proposed industry-friendly relaxation of a century-old treaty that protects more than 1,000 avian species.

As part of the administration’s race to rush through as many regulatory rollbacks as possible before President-elect Joe Biden enters office on January 20, the U.S. Department of the Interior released an analysis that sets the stage for modification of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s interpretation of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Continue reading

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Firing a “Vindictive, Illegal Parting Shot,” Trump’s Interior Proposes Sabotage of Conservation Program

“The administration’s proposal is unneeded, unwanted, and unacceptable.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-14-2020

The night sky and entrance sign at Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo: NPS/Lian Law/flickr/cc)

The Trump administration was accused of firing a “vindictive, illegal parting shot” following Interior Secretary Bernhardt’s Friday executive order sabotaging funding of a key conservation program.

At issue is the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Established in 1964, it has been hailed as the nation’s most important conservation program. The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), bipartisan legislation President Donald Trump signed into law in August, was to permanently and fully fund the LWCF. Continue reading

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Following Outrage, Trump Pulls Nomination of “Unapologetic Racist’ William Perry Pendley to Oversee Nation’s Public Lands

“Pendley never should have been nominated, and the fact that he was shows you what you need to know about this administration’s conservation priorities.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-15-2020

BLM Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley rides a bike in Moab, Utah on October 25, 2019. (Photo: Eric Coulter, BLM, CC BY 2.0)

Environmental campaigners on Saturday welcomed news that President Donald Trump withdrew his nomination of “pro-polluter” and “unapologetic racist” William Perry Pendley for director of the Bureau of Land Management, with groups saying he should no longer be allowed to continue in his role as unofficial head of the agency.

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Video Reveals Threat of “Wholesale Transfer and Privatization of America’s Public Lands” on Trump’s Agenda, Says Watchdog Group

The event in question, which took place June 2019 and was hosted by the Interior Department, featured a keynote address by climate-denier Myron Ebell.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-14-2020

Myron Ebell discusses withdrawing U.S.commitment to the Paris Climate Treaty on a panel on WUSA9 in 2017. Screenshot: YouTube

Watchdog group Western Values Project said Friday that audio it obtained of a June 2019 event at Trump’s Interior Department provides more evidence that public lands are under threat of being privatized by the former reality star and his crew of “anti-public land zealots.”

The event (pdf) in question was the American Agri-Women Symposium entitled “Federal Land Policies: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” which took place at Interior’s Sidney Yates Auditorium. Myron Ebell—the climate crisis-denying former head of President Trump’s EPA transition team who serves as head of environmental and energy policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute—was keynote speaker. Continue reading

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Trump’s Final Plan to Open Treasured Public Lands in Utah Called ‘Sellout’ to Big Oil

The administration’s new managment plans “are the latest in a series of insults… that began when Trump illegally dismantled Bears Ears and Grand Staircase at the behest of corporate interests two years ago.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-6-2020

The Trump administration on Thursday released its final management plans for a lands previously protected as national monuments. (Photo: Bob Wick/Bureau of Land Management/Flickr/cc)

Tribal and conservation groups on Thursday condemned the Trump administration’s “unconscionable” final management plans for Utah lands previously protected as national monuments, which critics warn will open up the region to ranchers who want to graze livestock and companies looking to cash in on the area’s oil, gas, and coal.

In a joint statement Thursday, critics charged that the U.S. Interior Department should not have finalized the plans while President Donald Trump’s December 2017 decision to severely shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments is still being challenged in federal court. Continue reading

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New BLM Appointee Brings Conflicts of Interest and Plans to Sell Off Public Lands to Agency Charged With Protecting Them

“It’s hard to imagine anyone in this position more dangerous than William Perry Pendley.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-30-2019

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona is among the public lands which could be threatened by the appointment of William Perry Pendley to oversee the Bureau of Land Management. (Photo: Bureau of Land Management/Flickr/cc)

Control over nearly 250 million acres of public lands was placed Monday in the hands of a former Reagan administration official who has argued that all federal lands should be sold to fossil fuel and other corporate interests in accordance with the goals of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt appointed attorney William Perry Pendley as acting head of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), sending fears throughout conservation groups that many of the country’s minerals and resources will soon be handed over to oil and gas companies. Continue reading

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Critics Charge New Trump Plan ‘Recklessly Weakens Protections’ for What Remains of ‘Illegally Reduced’ Bears Ears Monument

“The Trump administration continues to prove its utter disregard of our public lands and outdoor heritage.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-26-2019

The Interior Department on Friday released its management plan for Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah. (Photo: Bob Wick/Bureau of Land Management/Flickr/cc)

Conservation groups and congressional Democrats slammed the Trump administration Friday over its destructive new management plan for the “illegally reduced” Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.

In December of 2017, the administration provoked mass outrage with its decision to reduce Bears Ears by about 85 percent. The Bureau of Land Management—an agency of the U.S. Interior Department—published in the Federal Register on Friday a management plan for, as one critic put it, “the meager remnants of the original monument.” Continue reading

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Retired oil rigs off the California coast could find new lives as artificial reefs

A school of juvenile bocaccio in the midwaters of Platform Gilda, Santa Barbara Channel, Calif. Scott Gietler, CC BY-ND

Ann Scarborough Bull, University of California, Santa Barbara and Milton Love, University of California, Santa Barbara

Offshore oil and gas drilling has been a contentious issue in California for 50 years, ever since a rig ruptured and spilled 80,000 to 100,000 barrels of crude oil off Santa Barbara in 1969. Today it’s spurring a new debate: whether to completely dismantle 27 oil and gas platforms scattered along the southern California coast as they end their working lives, or convert the underwater sections into permanent artificial reefs for marine life.

We know that here and elsewhere, many thousands of fishes and millions of invertebrates use offshore rigs as marine habitat. Working with state fisheries agencies, energy companies have converted decommissioned oil and gas platforms into manmade reefs in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Brunei and Malaysia. Continue reading

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#NotInvisible: Groundbreaking Legislation Tackles Epidemic of Violence Against Indigenous Women

“Women are disappearing and dying in Indian country. We must act,” said Rep. Deb Haaland

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-6-2019

Activists march for missing and murdered indigenous women and girls at the Women’s March DC. Photo: Slowking4/CC

Newly-proposed federal legislation tackles a silent crisis—the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) introduced H.R. 2438—the Not Invisible Act of 2019—on Wednesday, just ahead of the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Last month, a bipartisan group of senators introduced similar legislation in the upper chamber. Continue reading

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