State of the Union: Energy and Public Lands

Jan 30, 2018

Under the leadership of President Donald Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the Trump administration has pursued reckless and relentless efforts to put energy extraction above the protection of our public lands -- including national parks and monuments -- at the behest of industry and corporate polluters.

Over the last year, we’ve seen a balanced approach to public lands management thrown out the window, handing over some of our wildest places to the special interests that have the administration’s full attention.

Given the administration’s frequent rhetoric promoting “energy dominance,” we expect the President to discuss a range of issues important to energy development on public lands. Unfortunately, in every case, we expect the President to favor extreme policies that benefit large corporations and extractive industries over local communities, clean air, clean water, lands and wildlife. Here are a few issues we’ll be keeping an eye on in particular:

Deregulation

When Trump says……

We are cracking down on bad regulatory practices, cutting years of wasted time and money out of the permitting process for infrastructure and energy development, saving the nation trillions of dollars and the American taxpayers jobs…

The reality is…

The single goal of all this deregulation is, in short, more drilling and mining permits issued in less time, with little to no oversight or accountability. Anything that might impede this agenda is considered a burden, regardless of the implications (For a complete timeline on how the administration has prioritized oil, gas and coal development on our public lands, take a look at our Sellout Tracker).

Infrastructure

When Trump says…

We will streamline environmental reviews and decision making to speed up permitting and rebuild our nation’s aging infrastructure…

The reality is…

Trump’s proposal to “improve” America’s transportation and energy infrastructure, would eviscerate the fundamental protections that safeguard our clean air, clean drinking water, parks and wildlife.         

For example, Trump’s is expected to tout an infrastructure proposal at the State of the Union that jeopardizes public health and safety by waiving environmental safeguards protecting our clean air, clean water, parks and wildlife. This outlandish proposal even includes a provision that would allow Secretary Zinke to jam natural gas pipelines through our national parks.

Climate Change

When Trump says…

The Paris Climate Accord is a bad deal for the American people…

The reality is…

The U.S. federal government needs to lead the nation in addressing climate change and keeping our country safe and secure. Since the federal government has discretion over management, U.S. public lands should play a role in the climate solution – especially since emissions associated with fossil fuel development on public lands are equivalent to more than one-fifth of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. (For more, check out our new interactive Federal Lands Emissions Accountability Tool, which provides the best available estimate for greenhouse gas emissions from energy production on U.S. public lands).

 

Alex Thompson
202-429-3940