Tag Archives: Department of the Interior

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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In Ruling on Coal Mining, Federal Judge Issues Latest Rebuke of Trump’s Attack on Public Lands

About 40 federal rulings have now blocked the president from rolling back environmental and public health regulations

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-20-2019

 

“This is a victory for communities whose land, water, and way of life is threatened by new coal mining,” Earthjustice said of a federal ruling against the president’s attempt to open up coal mining on public lands. (Photo: Maria Gunnoe Flight, courtesy of southwings.org)

Green groups on Saturday celebrated the latest federal ruling aimed at preventing President Donald Trump from rolling back environmental regulations that were put in place by his predecessor.

Judge Brian Morris issued a ruling late Friday stating that the Interior Department broke federal law when it lifted former President Barack Obama’s moratorium on coal mining in public lands. Continue reading

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New Interior Chief Bernhardt Reportedly Held Secret Meeting Linked to One of His Predecessor’s Many Scandals

Newly revealed meeting “absolutely epitomizes the ‘swamp’ that Donald Trump promised to drain but is in fact flooding,” one critic said

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-17-2019

Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt has a long history of lobbying for Big Oil and Big Ag. (Photo: Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck)

It’s only been a week, but newly-confirmed Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s conflicts of interests are already raising questions about his involvement in the very same scandals for which his predecessor is now under investigation.

The Guardian reported Wednesday that Bernhardt, who was confirmed last week over the objections of climate action and conservation groups, met in 2018 with a lawyer for the Schaghticoke tribal nation of Connecticut, which opposed the operation of a new casino in the state by two other tribes. Continue reading

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Senate Urged to Reject ‘Walking, Talking Conflict of Interest’ David Bernhardt to Run Interior

“A dream come true for fossil fuel companies, but a nightmare for the American people.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-27-2019

David Bernhardt during his confirmation hearing for deputy secretary 2018. Photo: Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Environmental activists are calling on senators to reject the nomination of former fossil fuel lobbyist David Bernhardt to lead the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The calls come ahead of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s Thursday morning hearing to consider his nomination.

“David Bernhardt is a walking, talking conflict of interest,” said Alissa Weinman, a senior organizer for the nonprofit Corporate Accountability. “Between his Big Polluter ties and corporate lobbying connections, it’s clear Bernhardt will continue to serve the corporate interests to whom he owes his career, not the people or our public lands.” Continue reading

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Leaked Audio Exposes Oil & Gas Execs Laughing With Joy Over Cozy Access to Trump Officials

“It’s really a new world for us and very, very helpful,” said powerful fossil fuel lobby group’s CEO during closed-door meeting

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-23-2019

David Bernhardt. Photo: Citizen Truth

A newly-leaked audio recording reveals that oil and gas executives in a private meeting were “giddy” with laughter in the summer of 2017 as they rejoiced over the “unprecedented access” they were being given to the highest levels of the Trump administration, boasting about their ability to have closed-door meetings with top officials and the ascendance of their own industry colleagues to some of the most powerful seats of government.

Among the topics in the recording, reports Reveal at the Center for Investigative Reporting—which was provided the audio—the oil and gas executives who belong to the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) “are heard discussing David Bernhardt, now deputy secretary of the Interior and a former industry lobbyist.” Notably, Bernhardt—described by the executives in the recording as a close friend and industry operative—has now been nominated by President Trump to be the next Secretary of Interior, with his confirmation hearings scheduled for next week. Continue reading

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Under Cover of Shutdown, Trump Admin Quietly Moves to Deprive ‘American People of Their Right to Know What Government Is Doing’

Critics warn proposed changes to how the Interior Department handles FOIA requests “are designed to facilitate more official stonewalling and delays in producing public records.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-31-2018

Outgoing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in 2016, when he served as a congressman for Montana. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

Amid the chaos of the ongoing government shutdown and winter holidays, critics on Monday are calling out the Trump administration for quietly moving to make it harder for the public to find out what goes on behind closed doors at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

proposed new rule (pdf) filed to the Federal Register on Friday would enable the department—which, along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been responsible for pushing through President Donald Trump’s widely condemned regulatory rollbacks—to ignore public records requests that officials deem too “unreasonably burdensome.” Continue reading

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Report on President’s Environmental Record So Far ‘Reminds Us That Trump Soap Opera Has Dire Real-World Consequences’

“We are sort of powerless,” a Fort Berthold Indian Reservation resident said of Trump’s rollbacks on pollution rules. “This is our reality now.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-27-2018

On Earth Day in 2017, people worldwide participated in the March for Science to demand evidence-based policymaking. This sign was displayed by participants in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Becker1999/Flickr/cc)

New York Times investigative report on President Donald Trump’s nearly two-year environmental record and how his industry-friendly policies are impacting communities nationwide, published in the Thursday paper, “reminds us that the Trump soap opera has dire real-world consequences.”

That’s according to 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, who added on Twitter that “futures are foreclosed because he’s a tool of dirty energy.” Continue reading

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These Trump Staffers — Including an ex-NRA Lobbyist — Left Their Financial Disclosure Forms Blank

The Interior Department acknowledges that many of its employees’ forms “were not reviewed and certified properly.”

By Gabriel Sandoval. Published 6-28-2018 by ProPublica

Before accepting a position at the U.S. Department of the Interior last October, Benjamin Cassidy championed gun rights for nearly seven years as a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, collecting a peak annual salary of $288,333 for his work on Capitol Hill.

The public wouldn’t know that by looking at Cassidy’s government financial disclosure report. The form, which he filed soon after taking a job as senior deputy director of the office of intergovernmental and external affairs, doesn’t list his old job at the NRA — or any past job, for that matter. Cassidy’s form was nearly blank, save for his name, title and some bank holdings and investments. In the space allotted to show his income, it incorrectly stated “None.” Continue reading

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In ‘Tremendous Victory for Taxpayers, Public Health, and Planet,’ Federal Court Rejects Trump Admin.’s Attempt to Suspend Methane Rule

The late Thursday ruling “once again sends a message to this administration that it will not get away with illegal handouts to industry”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-23-2018

A fracking well flare in Scott Township, Pennsylvania. (Photo: WCN 24/7/flickr/cc)

A court has once again rejected the Trump administration’s effort to suspend an Obama-era rule aimed at reducing releases of methane from oil and gas operations on federal and tribal land.

“The decision,” writes Meleah Geertsma, a senior attorney with NRDC, “once again sends a message to this administration that it will not get away with illegal handouts to industry, at the expense of Americans’ health and the environment.” Continue reading

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