The American voice on protecting public lands could be at risk, as Trump champions fossil fuel development.
Just two months after President Trump approved the permanent dismantlement of a rule that ensured the public was involved early and often in decisions about fossil fuel development on public land, the Trump administration has opened an absurdly short comment period to overhaul the process of public land management.
Before it was swiftly cut down by oil industry allies in Congress a few months ago, the rule would have updated a process three decades old and better empowered the American people’s vision of how our lands are managed. The “BLM Planning 2.0” initiative would have engaged local communities from the beginning to avoid conflicts of interest later in planning and crafted plans with a more holistic, ecosystem perspective to include wildlife migration patterns and climate change impacts.
Polluters shouldn't have more say on our lands
Now, the input process presented by the Trump administration seems woefully inadequate for planning that will affect more than 245 million acres of public land managed by the BLM:
- Only three weeks long and ending on July 24, the comment period is far too short in a comparison to a rule that took eight years to meticulously craft.
- The BLM has a legal obligation to provide the public with a say on what happens to our public lands that we all own. But since this comment period is "unofficial", the BLM does not have to be transparent about what happens to public input. It's nearly impossible to know if public input is even taken into consideration.
Subtle nuances in disengaging the public in land management decisions slowly minimizes the American people’s voice, which in turn enhances the wants of the coal, oil and gas industry. This goes hand-in-hand with Zinke’s quick work to fulfill Trump’s executive orders on energy development and reversing Obama-era climate policies.
We’re giving the BLM some advice on giving the fossil fuel industry and American people equal say on public land management through the current public comment period (see below) open through July 24. If you would like to leave your own suggestions, go to the BLM Streamlining Planning & NEPA Input Form, enter your contact information and leave your comments in Section B.
No public input would prove disastrous
The current trend by the Trump administration and his oil hungry allies look to un-designate national monuments and kill off environmental protections, opening up more land for drilling, mining and logging with little environmental oversight. Land use on the BLM lands already skews towards industry, with a staggering 90 percent open for energy development, but many in Congress want to continue to throw open the doors for drilling on sensitive landscapes.
Without public input, landscapes that could be once be used for hiking, fishing and camping will be closed off permanently, sold off to the highest bidder. Skipping over environmental analysis will allow the oil and gas industry to freely pollute our air, land and water. Public comment periods and public meetings could all but disappear, with oil industry allies creating a new sense of normalcy when it comes using our incredible wild landscapes.
Although it is not always clear how the Trump administration considers public input, what is clear is the grim future of our lands if don’t at least try to make our voices heard.