The Trump administration is examining land use planning procedures and other environmental reviews, keeping in line with its stated commitment to roll back what some consider burdensome requirements.
The Bureau of Land Management said on Monday it is requesting “ideas and input” on how the agency can make procedures and reviews timelier and less costly. The effort comes after President Trump’s March approval of a House Joint Resolution, which nullified the BLM’s Planning 2.0 rule.
The rule gave more power to citizens in approving larger projects on public lands, which includes more than 8 million acres in Colorado.
The Trump administration has sought to roll back several Obama-era environmental actions, including regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon and methane pollution, as well as federal regulatory authority over small bodies of water.
“The decisions made in land use plans and environmental reviews are fundamental to how public lands and resources are used for the benefit of all Americans,” said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. “The Trump Administration and the Department of the Interior are committed to working with state and local governments, communities, Indian tribes, and other stakeholders as true partners to determine the best ways to accomplish this, now and into the future.”
Federal officials are working with state and local elected officials, including the Western Governors’ Association and the National Association of Counties, to engage and gather input. Comments can be taken at a BLM website.
“We are doing this because Secretary Zinke and President Trump both strongly believe that public engagement, especially at the local level, is a critical component of federal land management,” said BLM Director Michael Nedd. “We need and want input from our state and local partners as well as from the general public in this effort.”
A 21-day public input process began on Monday. Following the process, the BLM will prepare a report that will be released later this year.
Resource management plans provide a framework for land use authorization decisions on BLM-managed public lands, including those relating to subsurface federal minerals, according to the BLM. Most land use authorization decisions are preceded by review under the National Environmental Policy Act.
Through the public NEPA process, the BLM analyzes the effects of proposed plans and land use authorization decisions and discloses them to the public.
The Trump administration review of land use planning procedures falls in line with several Republican efforts to hand back control to the states.
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, successfully pushed a measure through the House Natural Resources Committee last week to prohibit the departments of Agriculture and the Interior from requiring the transfer of water rights as a condition of any land-use permit. The bill also requires that future directives from the departments be consistent with state water law.
Tipton said he became concerned over federal attempts to manipulate federal permit, lease and land management processes to circumvent state water law and “hijack” privately held water rights. He pointed to a U.S. Forest Service attempt to require a transfer of privately-held water rights to the federal government as a condition for granting permits on National Forest System lands.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Greeley, backed a measure that would designate the Bureau of Reclamation as the lead coordinating agency for water project permitting among state and federal governments on federal lands.
Buck points to the Northern Integrated Supply Project, a multi-county water storage effort that would impact much of northeastern Colorado. Buck said the project and others face delays because of burdens imposed by federal agencies. He hopes designating an agency to handle such requests would streamline the process.
The permitting of the NISP project has already cost Colorado communities over $15 million and has dragged on for over 13 years, Buck said.
“In Colorado, water is tough to come by, which makes water storage a necessity,” Buck said. “We need to streamline the water project permitting process so that future projects like NISP don’t take over a decade to win a permit.”
Naturally, it’s the vice president of the National Association of Mining writing “Energy Department right to study impact of regulations on U.S. power grid.” Trump and the NAM are the only support the coal mining industry has.
It's important to remember that mineral extraction has never been safe or without risk but with extreme methods it's become even more risky.
Running Weld counties economy on mineral resources that use and release toxins is an unavoidable part of extraction and requires a "sacrifice zone," which is labeled as less inhabitable by poisoning in the name of profits.
In Colorado, the rule is that oil and gas wells can be sited 1,000 feet from a school building. A bill that aimed to update that rule to measure the setback instead from the school property line drew crowds to the Capitol this month to testify in support of it and major drilling industry figures to argue against it.
In the end, there were no surprises concerning its fate. Oil and gas drilling has long been a top partisan issue at the Legislature.
Colorado officials who reviewed thousands of air samples and a dozen studies on air pollution from oil and gas sites said Wednesday the risk of harmful human effects appears to be low, but they stressed that more study is needed.
"The main message (is not) that we didn't find anything," said Mike Van Dyke of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. "It would be, so far we didn't find anything."
In the wake of President Donald Trump’s nominations of climate-deniers like Scott Pruitt to cabinet positions, it is imperative that state leaders take climate action into their own hands through the implementation of programs in line with the goals of the Clean Power Plan, which calls for a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions from the power sector by 2030.
The Obama administration offered five possible plans Thursday for limiting mining on federal land in the West to protect the vulnerable greater sage grouse, but it isn't saying which it prefers.
The options range from banning new mining activity on about 15,000 square miles for up to 20 years to imposing no additional restrictions on mine locations.
Coloradans love clean energy. Seventy-six percent of Colorado voters say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who promotes wind and solar energy. Certainly many of them helped expand our pro-conservation majority in the Statehouse during the last election.
Renewable energy embodies many of the values that Coloradans voted for on Election Day, including self-reliance, the right to choose, concern for natural resources and the knowledge that a healthy environment goes hand-in-hand with a strong economy.
President-elect Donald Trump’s recent choice of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency is creating concerns about sharp conflicts with Colorado’s environmentalists and advocates of legalized marijuana.
Pruitt’s career has been marked by lawsuits against the EPA for what he described as clean air and water regulations that impose on states’ rights to regulate internal issues. Among them was Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry.
For EPA opponents who view the agency as an overly-burdensome regulatory entity that has hampered economic development, news of Pruitt's appointment was welcomed.