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[REGIONAL NEWS — OPINION] Interior Department is cutting the public out of public lands planning

Posted by   /  September 14, 2019  /  No Comments

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Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah is a good example of what’s at stake with these plans./Utah Geological Survey

In the past four months alone, BLM has done a bait-and-switch on six management plans covering 22 million acres in Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Oregon.

By Anne Shields, former chief of staff for former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt via The Hill

(Editor’s note: Views expressed by opinion contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill.)

Having served at the Department of the Interior for nearly a decade, I know what it looks like to have our public lands and their values front of mind. But the department’s current leadership is cutting the public out of public lands planning, and effectively dismantling the agency responsible for protecting our nation’s most important landscapes.

These lands are a core part of America’s heritage, and the administration seems hell-bent on destroying them. This fast-and-furious assault on tens of millions of acres of national monuments, cultural sites and other iconic lands ignores the department’s mandate to conserve certain lands as well as the will of the people.

It’s essential that Americans act now, and let the administration know we won’t accept our public lands being handed over to oil and gas companies. Whether you’re a hiker or a hunter, biker or business owner, Democrat or Republican — our public lands belong to you. We must defend our common heritage together and protect the wild places we love.

Over the next 16 months, Americans will see more than 42 million acres of their most important public lands under review and at risk to oil and mineral development. These landscapes are important economic engines for rural economies across the West, and millions of Americans visit them every year. Every decision made about how they’re managed will impact communities that rely on them for recreation, tourism, and healthy air and water.

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