Policy Update Dec 4, 2017

The Undoing Of Our Public Lands and National Parks

Since the Trump administration began in January 2017, a series of actions taken at the presidential and departmental level have undermined, degraded and outright attacked the laws that protect our public lands and the agencies that manage them.

Presidential Actions

January 23: Presidential Memorandum instituted a freeze on hiring of Federal civilian employees. No vacant positions could be filled and no new positions created.

January 30: Executive Order 13771 requires a repeal of two regulations for every one enacted. Agencies must also offset cost of new rules by rescinding existing rules.

February 24: Executive Order 13777 initiates enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda. On June 21, the Department of the Interior (DOI) opened an ongoing comment period on unnecessary regulatory burdens.

February 28: Executive Order 13778 starts the review and rescission or revision of the “Waters of the United States” rule.. The comment period on the proposed rule to replace the 2015 definition of Waters of the United States and re-codify regulatory text that existed prior to 2015, closed on September 27.

March 13: Executive Order 13781 directs the Office on Management and Budget (OMB) to propose a plan to reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies.

March 28: Executive Order 13783 starts a process to review and repeal the Clean Power Plan; starts process to review Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) methane rule, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) fracking rule, BLM methane rule, National Park Service (NPS) 9B rule; rescinds Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) final guidance on consideration of greenhouse gas emissions and effects of climate change in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews.

April 26: Executive Order 13792 starts a review of national monuments designated by the Antiquities Act since 1996 that are more than 100,000 acres or that received insufficient public input according to the Secretary of the Interior. The public comment period on the review of national monuments closed on July 10.

April 28: Executive Order 13795 starts the process to review and revise 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Proposed Final Program; rescinds ban on drilling inside Marine Sanctuaries created after July 14, 2008; orders DOI and Commerce to expedite ITAs and IHAs under Marine Mammal Protection Act; requires Commerce to streamline permitting for seismic testing; starts process to review BSEE Well Control and Blowout Preventer Systems rule.

Department or Agency Actions

March 29: DOI Secretarial Order 3348 overturns the 2016 moratorium on all new coal leases on federal land and ends the programmatic environmental impacts statement that was set to be completed no sooner than 2019.

March 29: DOI Secretarial Order 3349 implements a review of agency actions that may hamper responsible energy development and reconsideration of regulations related to U.S. oil and natural gas development. It directs a reexamination of the mitigation and climate change policies and guidance across Interior.

April 5: DOI reversed course and took steps that could lead to approval of the controversial Cadiz Inc. groundwater mining proposal which would pump 16 billion gallons of water per year from the Mojave Desert.

April 12: OMB Memorandum M-17-22 on a comprehensive plan for reforming the federal government and reducing the federal civilian workforce as directed by Executive Order 13781.

April 21: BLM approves right-of-way for Eagle Crest pumped storage facility near Joshua Tree National Park.

May 12: EPA reverses decision on gold and copper mine in Bristol Bay region and allows for permitting and approval process to go forward. The comment period on reassessing proposed withdrawal closed October 17.

May 23: The Fiscal Year 2018 President’s Budget recommends a 13 percent cut to the National Park Service.

June 2: Secretary of the Interior announces he will recommend reducing the size of the Bears Ears National Monument.

June 22: Fish and Wildlife Service releases rule to delist Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear from the Endangered Species List.

July 6: Army Corps of Engineers grants a permit for Dominion Virginia Power to build 17 obstructive transmission towers across the James River.

July 7: OMB Memorandum M-17-28 provides Fiscal Year 2019 budget guidance to agencies to implement the FY18 budget and Executive Order 13781.

July 19: DOI directs NPS to reconsider Alaska wildlife hunting regulations

July 25: BLM proposes rescinding 2015 hydraulic fracturing on public lands rule. The comment period on proposed rescission closed September 25.

August 17: NPS rescinds ban on selling bottled water in national parks.

August 31: DOI Secretarial Order 3355 “streamlines” NEPA by setting page and timing limitations for Environmental Impact Statemets, target page and timing limitations for Environmental Assessments, and directing additional NEPA-streamlining review.

August 31: NPS rescinds Directors Order #100

September 15: DOI Secretarial Order 3356 requires agencies to produce plan to expand access for hunting and fishing, and, among other provisions, amends national monument management plans to ensure public’s right to hunt, fish and target shoot.

September 17: A leaked report shows Secretary Zinke recommended removing protections for nearly a dozen national monuments.

October 1: EPA misses the deadline for releasing non-attainment areas in order to comply with 2015 ozone standard.

October 4: BLM announces a comment period on a one-year delay of Methane Waste Prevention Rule.

October 10: EPA issues a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to repeal Clean Power Plan.

October 24: DOI announces a comment period on proposed fee increases in 17 national parks.

Nov 1: DOI recommends rolling back a 20-year ban on uranium mining near the Grand Canyon.

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