THE NEUTRAL ZONE
The White House will establish new rules this week that allow hunters in ten of Alaska’s national preserves to use practices that were banned by the Obama administration. The National Park Service said the 2015 rule was necessary to avoid “destabilizing” the ecosystem. Now, the NPS supports the reversal. Alaskan National Park Service spokesman Peter Christian told the Anchorage Daily News the new rules would allow controversial hunting practices, including drawing out bears and cubs from dens and luring bears with bait; shooting wolves and coyotes, including pups, in their dens; and shooting swimming caribou.
Many Alaskan government officials praised the move as a win for states’ rights. Indigenous groups also voiced support for the rules, noting that previous regulations “were introduced without adequate tribal consultation and in disregard to rural Alaska’s dependence on wild food sources.” Conservationists, however, were critical of the change. Jesse Prentice of the Center for Western Priorities called the change “amazingly cruel” and claimed the move was “just the latest in a string of efforts to reduce protections for America’s wildlife at the behest of oil companies and trophy hunters.”
In multiple recent victories for environmentalists, federal judges ruled that members of the administration have “ignored or downplayed potential environmental damage” on over a dozen cases involving oil and gas leases, coal mining, and fuel transport pipelines around the U.S. One of the most expansive rulings came down in Montana, where District Judge Brian Morris canceled energy leases on nearly 500 square miles of land in cases that focused on harm to water supplies and greater sage grouse. In another case against the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, Morris struck down a permitting program for new oil and gas pipelines. In response, representatives of oil and gas industries called Morris an “activist judge” and claimed he inserted his agenda into his rulings. However, multiple other judges appointed by both parties have recently made similar rulings.
Since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the White House has worked to roll back a total of 100 environmental regulation initiatives. One such reduction affected Bears Ears National Monument, founded in 2016 by former President Barrack Obama. Less than a year after its creation, President Trump reduced the monument’s area by 85%.
Trump Is The Most Anti-Conservation President In History, Analysis Finds – HuffPost – 5/21/2020
“One of the president’s priorities is to strive to ensure a conservation legacy second only to Theodore Roosevelt,” he said during his Senate confirmation hearing in March 2019. Environmentalists, outdoor sporting groups and even a great-grandson of Roosevelt himself have repeatedly blasted the Trump administration for invoking and comparing itself to the 26th president. And a new analysis from the Center for American Progress shows just how wildly off the mark the administration is. By the numbers, Trump is the most “anti-nature” president in U.S. history, the left-leaning think tank found.
Court Strikes Down Trump Administration’s Sage-grouse Directive, Canceling Hundreds of Oil and Gas Leases – Audubon – 5/26/2020
The Trump administration attempted to gut a key part of the Bureau of Land Management’s 2015 sage grouse plan which was the result of a historic effort that brought to the table conservationists, sportsmen, representatives for ranching and energy industries and government officials. In December 2017, the Trump administration reversed course and adopted a BLM policy directive that has allowed millions of acres of oil and gas leasing in sensitive sage-grouse habitat. The court on Friday invalidated that 2017 directive and also nullified 440 oil and gas leases, covering about 336,000 acres (525 square miles), that BLM sold as part of its policy reversal.
Trump Administration again approves new oil drilling in Carrizo Plain National Monument – San Luis Obispo Tribune – 5/28/2020
The Bakersfield office of the Bureau of Land Management has once again approved new oil drilling at an old well pad at the base of Caliente Mountain in San Luis Obispo County — it would be the only new drilling within the Carrizo Plain National Monument since it was established in 2001. Approval of new drilling in a protected area is indicative of the vastly different approaches to oil development between the federal and state governments. While California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation prohibiting new oil and gas development on state lands, the BLM under President Donald Trump has approved reopening wells that haven’t been used since the 1950s.
Rock Climbers and Conservationists Unite Behind Indigenous Nations to Defend Bears Ears – Sierra Club – 5/27/2020
A small portion of the land had been blown apart, and lying atop a scattering of rocks was a box of old explosives. […] Shortly after that, Mehall noticed the start of an abandoned uranium exploratory mine. Mehall contacted the local Bureau of Land Management office, and a BLM official hiked out to the mine with Mehall to locate the explosives for eventual removal. The miners’ casual disregard for the landscape—not to mention public safety—served as a sharp reminder for Mehall about “why the industry has to be so heavily regulated.”
Wolf Conservation Center on Twitter, 5/28/2020: Feds approve new rule to allow trophy hunters in Alaska’s national preserves to kill bears + wolves, their cubs + pups, while in their dens. New rule allows baiting, snaring, + aerial gunning too. Killing has no place in our Nat’l Wildlife Refuges.
Dan Sullivan on Twitter, 5/21/2020: This final ruling – strongly supported by our congressional delegation – is a bipartisan win for our state, our ability to manage fish and game, and the rights of all Alaskans.
Lucy Sherriff on Twitter, 5/28/2020: ICYMI: 21 states and 4 cities are suing the Trump administration over a rule that requires car makers to achieve 1.5% increases in fuel efficiency. This replaced Obama’s rule which required 5% fuel efficiency + was a big win for combatting fuel emissions
Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Twitter, 5/21/2020: Great news from @FERC today: Alaska Gasline Development Corporation is authorized to construct and operate the #Alaska LNG project.