How Trump is Stacking The Deck for the Fossil Fuel Industry
An under the radar Executive Order from the Trump administration is going back behind closed doors and it could have significant implications for our public lands and how we will be able to use them going forward.
This Executive Order is looking to see how to reorganize the federal government and “intended to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of the executive branch” and “propose a plan to reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies…components of agencies, and agency programs.”
A comment period that lasted all of 30 days ended on Monday, June 12th. The comment period was used to explicitly ask the American public which government agencies and programs they wanted eliminated. And the decisions on those is now in the hands of the Trump administration.
In a nutshell, this administration is looking to cut important government functions, any way they can, and the Department of the Interior and vital public land management agencies, and the programs they administer, are at risk.
And its clear they are targeting public lands programs and agencies because of their rhetoric and priorities. For example, take a look at the budget this administration put out last month, and it is clear what they value about our public lands. And it is not recreation or conservation or their importance for climate change. And it is certainly not renewable energy, which was cut by nearly 50 percent in the budget. No, the only programs that saw an increase in proposed funding were the oil and gas program, which saw an increase of 22 percent from last year, and the federal coal program, which saw a 44 percent increase.
Given that the President’s budget is mainly a document outlining the administration’s priorities in an ideal world, there is a lot that we can understand about how this administration sees our public lands: a place to continue to produce fossil fuels that will harm our climate, while ignoring all the other important uses that Americans hold dear.
And that is why this Executive Order on reorganizing the federal government is so scary for people who care about our public lands. This administration has demonstrated again and again that they answer to the desires of the fossil fuel industry, even as public land recreation and conservation has never been more popular. A poll this spring found a majority of Americans opposed to opening up more public land for drilling for the first time ever. This number was up 19 points just from five years ago. And against this backdrop, the Trump administration and the Department of the Interior are doing everything in its power to put the fossil fuel industry in the driver’s seat when it comes to managing our public lands.
Besides the budget priorities document, look at a few of the policies they are putting forward:
· Trying to find a way to overturn some of our most culturally and environmentally important National Monuments so that the oil and gas industry can have more access;
· Working to overturn important plans to help the sage grouse habitat, which are opposed by the oil and gas industry,
· Attempting to open up pristine areas of Alaska to oil drilling, like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,
· Looking to revise the BLM’s Natural Gas and Methane Waste Rule, which would ensure that when oil and gas companies drill, they stop wasting resources owned by all of us.
These policies, taken with the budget proposal, paint a scary picture of what this administration wants to do with our public lands. Fortunately, the American people care deeply about what happens to our lands and have been fighting back to ensure that our lands are protected and open for all of us and future generations. We must continue to stay vigilant to make sure our lands are not just drilling and mining grounds, but places for all of us to enjoy.