Gun owners who have historically been able to use public lands for target practice would be barred from potentially millions of acres under new rules drafted by the Interior Department, the first major move by the Obama administration to impose limits on firearms.
Officials say the administration is concerned about the potential clash between gun owners and encroaching urban populations who like to use same land for hiking and dog walking.
“It’s not so much a safety issue. It’s a social conflict issue,” said Frank Jenks, a natural resource specialist with Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, which oversees 245 million acres. He adds that urbanites “freak out” when they hear shooting on public lands. [Read about the subpoena issued as a result of Operation Fast and Furious.]
If the draft policy is finally approved, some public access to Bureau lands to hunters would also be limited, potentially reducing areas deer, elk, and bear hunters can use in the West.
Conservationists and hunting groups, however, are mounting a fight. One elite group of conservationists that advises Interior and Agriculture is already pushing BLM to junk the regulations, claiming that shooters are being held to a much higher safety standard than other users of public lands, such as ATV riders. . . .
Posts Tagged ‘BLM’
Weeks after the infamous BP oil spill in late-April 2010, the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the agency that managed leasing and regulation, was split up into three parts. Addressing the reorganization, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, said: “We will be able to strengthen oversight of the companies that develop our nation’s energy resources.” He addressed a perceived conflict of interest between departments due to the leasing and regulatory functions being in one agency—one brings in revenue and one regulates (and perhaps punishes) the businesses generating the income.
His mid-May 2010 actions bring his new Secretarial Order to reorganize a different agency into question.
On October 26, 2011, Secretary Salazar signed Secretarial Order 3315 that will consolidate the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) within the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The Order states that “fee collections” and “regulation, inspection and enforcement, and state program oversight” will now be integrated—the very tasks split out within the MMS reorganization.
Because this new order seems in direct contradiction to the 2010 SO 3299, it raises suspicion as to the true purpose of the agency reorganization—especially since the impacted industry is the administration’s favorite villain—coal.
SO 3315 was announced to the surprise of most in the industry and to those in OSM. Charlie Boddy, a mining and government relations consultant with more than 40 years in the industry and former VP of government relations with Usibelli Coal Mine Inc., said when he first heard the announcement, he thought it was a joke. “It is,” he said, “without a doubt, the most bizarre proposal to come out of the Obama Administration.”
The fact that there was no consultation with the stakeholders, states, or Congress raises additional concerns. If there was a desire to work with the industry, the general belief is that they would have been involved. The order’s surprise element can’t mean good things for coal mining.
On November 4, as a part of a hearing on an investigation into a re-write of the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule, Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO) stated: “In addition, we will also discuss the recent Secretarial Order requiring the merger of the Office of Surface Mining with the Bureau of Land Management. A proposal I am deeply concerned about impacting the ability of the nation’s ability to access our vast coal resources. Furthermore there are clear statutory limitations prohibiting the OSM from leasing or promoting coal, which is a key responsibility of the BLM.”
Doc Hastings (R-WA), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, issued the following statement: “I have serious concerns about this Secretarial Order to suddenly and dramatically alter the management of coal mining and the multiple-use of Western BLM lands. The Obama Administration has not made secret its desire to put an end to America’s coal-mining industry, and this appears to be one more step in that direction.”
Because of the “bombshell” nature of the announcement, the administration’s attitude toward the coal industry, the totally different missions of the OSM and the BLM, and the fact that they operate under different specific provisions and acts of Congress, the proposed merger can only be considered suspect.
“It’s only fair. That’s the principle I’ll be fighting for during the next phase of this process.”—President Obama, August 2, 2011
What if you paid $38,000 to lease a house and were then told you cannot move in until some studies are done to determine if it is safe, but you do not get your money back? Years go by while the landlord is holding your money. That’s not fair!
But this is exactly what the Obama administration has been doing to the oil and gas industry since May of 2010. The same Obama who is crisscrossing the country touting “fair.”
On Friday, a US District Judge, appointed by Obama, decided that the administration wasn’t playing fair.
In October 2010, the Western Energy Alliance (WEA), representing more than 400 independent natural gas and oil producers in the western states, filed a lawsuit against the federal government to force action on oil and gas leases that companies had already paid for. The leases had been purchased at Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lease sales. But because of environmental protests and uncertainty over endangered species, the BLM has a backlog of leases needing additional examination.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 encouraged domestic energy development by allowing wells drilled from a site that had been used within the past five years, and already had a full environmental analysis, to proceed without repeating the expensive, time consuming, and redundant studies. Additionally, in areas with extensive energy development—and therefore environmental impacts have been fully evaluated—permits could be expedited. Extraction and jobs could happen more quickly—helping America’s debt.
In May/June 2010, in response to an environmentalist lawsuit, the BLM/Forest Service (FS) adopted new rules for interpreting the Energy Policy Act. The rules were aimed at slowing down development by increasing environmental oversight of drilling on federal lands.
The WEA lawsuit focused specifically on 118 leases for which companies had paid $4.5 million—an average of $38,000 per lease—though hundreds of leases and more than $100 million were impacted by Friday’s decision.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal ruled that the BLM and FS had failed to follow the correct procedures when they issued a memorandum and letter, respectively, changing the application of the 2005 Energy Policy Act. The Obama administration sought to introduce a screening process that would have increased environmental oversight. Turning down the administration’s argument that the memorandum/letter were “policy statements,” Judge Freudenthal said: “They are rules which bind the agency and impose or affect individual rights and duties”—as such, notifying the public and engaging in proper rule-making are required. She threw out the 2010 rewrite of Section 390 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and reinstated expedited oil and gas drilling.
“The judge’s ruling,” said Kathleen Sgamma, director of Government and Public Affairs for WEA, “is a victory for responsible American energy development, and holds the promise of new jobs and economic growth.”
The judge’s ruling was the second strike against the Obama administration in as many days. Just the day before, a three-judge panel—made up of one Bush appointee and two Clinton appointees—struck down Obamacare, ruling that Congress does not have the power to require all Americans to buy insurance.
Earlier this year, U.S.
Map via Frank Jacobs, Strange Maps blog/Big Think
Yes, dear readers, corruptocrat Interior Secretary Ken Salazar can be stopped.
Since day one of the Obama administration, I’ve chronicled Loathsome Cowboy Ken Salazar’s War on the West, War on Jobs, and War on Science/Rule of Law. The last straw was his attempted Wild Lands grab. GOP leaders rose up with farmers, ranchers, and Western governors to stop the scheme in its tracks. Utah and Alaska have filed suit. Wyoming joined the litigation this week.
Understanding how wilderness is designated and how wilderness-quality lands are managed in the U.S. just got murkier. On Wednesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a memo that promised to abide by a congressional mandate that essentially made it impossible to identify wild public lands that merit protection.
Salazar’s memo noted there was broad interest in managing public lands in a “sensible manner” and promised to work collaboratively with members of Congress. He directed Interior officials to draft a report on how best to manage wilderness-quality lands. But the days of holding land in a kind of hands-off limbo while officials decide whether it needs more protection effectively are coming to a halt, again:
“On December 22, 2010, I issued Secretarial Order 3310 to address the BLM’s management of wilderness resources on lands under its jurisdiction. Under Secretarial Order 3310, I ordered the BLM to use the public resource management planning process to designate certain lands with wilderness characteristics as “Wild Lands.”
On April 14, 20II, the United States Congress passed the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (Pub. L. 112-10)(2011 CR), which includes a provision (Section 1769) that prohibits the use of appropriated funds to implement, administer, or enforce Secretarial Order 3310 in Fiscal Year 2011.
I am confirming today that, pursuant to the 2011 CR, the BLM will not designate any lands as ‘Wild Lands.’ “
GOP Rep. Doc Hastings of the House Natural Resources Committee said yesterday that he will make sure the administration doesn’t get away with any underhanded moves:
“It’s welcome news that the Interior Department will follow the law. After this positive initial step of halting the ‘Wild Lands’ order, we’ll be taking a close look at how the Administration proceeds. Congressional oversight has served a vital role in this entire process and the Committee’s active oversight on this matter will continue. Attempts to prohibit forms of public access, block job-creating activities and manage land as wilderness, even though they haven’t been designated as such by Congress, will be met with a strong reaction by this Committee. It’s important that BLM maintains this new promise of an open process, through conversations with interested parties, states, and Congress.”
Where there’s a will against Team Obama’s culture of contempt and corruption, there’s a way.
It happened with immigration.
It happened with health care.
And now, thank goodness, it is happening with the Obama land grabs.
States are rising up to challenge federal abuses. More power to them.
I’ve been reporting on the stealth Obama land and ocean grabs for the past year now. Quick review: Last August, I told you about the “Great Outdoors Initiative” to lock up more open spaces through executive order. This came on top on top of a separate, property-usurping initiative exposed by GOP Rep. Robert Bishop and Sen. Jim DeMint earlier this spring. According to an internal, 21-page Obama administration memo, 17 energy-rich areas in 11 states have been targeted as potential federal “monuments.” The Obama War on the West is a War on Jobs that extends from land to sea based on politicized junk science by executive fiat and czar evasion. In November, I noted the expansive Interior Secretary Ken Salazar/NLCS designation. And in February, I mentioned the federal wild lands grab slipped through by Salazar during the Christmas season lame duck session.
Late last week, the state of Utah filed a lawsuit to stop the wild lands gambit:
The lawsuit challenges Salazar’s Secretarial Order 3310, which gives broad latitude to the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management to re-inventory the public lands within its purview for potential wild land characteristics.
Herbert said this upends an ongoing and successful process to designate wilderness land already in place in the state.
“This order puts in jeopardy all that work, all that effort,” he said. “It says, essentially, let’s have a do-over.”
Herbert said it would also hinder economic development in the areas in question — which could amount to “tens of millions of acres,” according to Chief Deputy Attorney General John Swallow.
Currently, 1.6 million acres in Utah have been designated as wilderness.
Herbert was joined at the news conference by Swallow, county commissioners from Uintah and Washington counties, state public lands policy coordinator John Harja and environmental adviser Ted Wilson.
There are currently wilderness designation policies and programs in place in Washington and Uintah counties and others, with other counties planning to follow. Now, Herbert said the federal government seeks to use the order to start from scratch and to do so without going through the proper channels.
“This secretarial order was created out of thin air,” Herbert said. “There was no statutory order to it. It’s counterproductive to efforts we made in good faith. This is not good for Utah, not good for America.”
Alaska is joining the challenge:
Gov. Sean Parnell is going to court against the federal government again, this time in a Utah case that challenges the Bureau of Land Management’s “Wild Lands” policy…Parnell’s office put out a press release late Friday saying Alaska would join Utah in challenging the legality of the program.
In the press release, Parnell contends the new policy would create potential costs and delays in permits for development on BLM lands and would override existing land use plans.
Yesterday, Senate Democrats dropped their 1,924-page omnibus spending bomb on Capitol Hill. My column today reports on the other omnibus bomb up their sleeves — a massive omnibus land grab that Dingy Harry Reid vowed yesterday to bring up before the stretched-out lame-duck session ends. It’s green pork galore: “Reid’s staff sees a natural resources omnibus as a rare chance for members to bring something home to their districts and therefore worth the extra time needed to see such a large bill through to completion.”
Many of the items on the enviros’ wish list have been divvied up between the omnibus spending bill and the omnibus lands bill. (I’ve uploaded them both below for easy reference.) A San Francisco Bay restoration grant program pushed by Sen. Boxer (p. 874), Great Lakes watershed program (p. 626), Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta heritage designation (p.880), and Montana forest and watershed plan pushed by Sen. Tester (p. 897) are among the eco-goodies stuffed into the omnibus spending bill. Dozens of other land grabs have been bundled together in the omnibus lands bill, including several projects in Reid’s home state of Nevada, as I note below.
Sen. Tester’s GOP opponent summed up the transparency-evading tactics perfectly:
Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, who many Republicans hope will run against Tester in 2012, slammed the inclusion of Tester’s bill in the spending package without undergoing a full committee hearings process in both chambers. “This is government at its worst,” Rehberg said. “These are exactly the sort of underhanded tactics the American people rejected in November. Apparently, the message didn’t get through.” He called it “a shameful attempt to force-feed Montanans another dose of big-government.”
Not just Montanans. All of us.
It’s a business-as-usual bonanza for the serial abusers of the lame-duck process.
Two words to the GOP: Stop them.
The Dems’ lame-duck land grab
by Michelle Malkin
Environmentalists hate sprawl — except when it comes to the size of their expansive pet legislation on Capitol Hill.
In a last-ditch lame duck push, eco-lobbyists have been furiously pressuring Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to pass a monstrous 327-page omnibus government lands bill crammed with more than 120 separate measures to lock up vast swaths of wilderness areas. Despite the time crunch, Senate Democrats in search of 60 votes are working behind the scenes to buy off green Republicans. House Democrats would then need a two-thirds majority to fast-track the bill to the White House before the GOP takes over on Jan. 5.
Yes, the hurdles are high. But with Reid and company now vowing to work straight through Christmas into the new year (when politicians know Americans are preoccupied with the holidays), anything is possible. The Constitution is no obstacle to these power grabbers. Neither is a ticking clock.
The Democrats’ brazen serial abuse of the lame-duck session is as damning as the green job-killing agenda enshrined in the overstuffed public lands package. Earlier this month, Reid assigned worker bees on three Senate committees — Energy and Natural Resources, Commerce, and Environment and Public Works — to draw up their public lands wish list.
Map via Frank Jacobs, Strange Maps blog/Big Think
The TSA isn’t the only one with grabby hands.
I’ve been reporting on the stealth Obama land and ocean grabs for the past several months now — and there is another new, under-the-radar-screen development that deserves your attention.
Quick review: In August, I told you about the “Great Outdoors Initiative” to lock up more open spaces through executive order. This came on top on top of a separate, property-usurping initiative exposed by GOP Rep. Robert Bishop and Sen. Jim DeMint earlier this spring. According to an internal, 21-page Obama administration memo, 17 energy-rich areas in 11 states have been targeted as potential federal “monuments.” The Obama War on the West is a War on Jobs that extends from land to sea based on politicized junk science by executive fiat and czar evasion.
The latest power grab comes via Interior Secretary Ken Salazar — the unchecked, unaccountable data doctor and loathsome cowboy — who has just unilaterally elevated a government landscape conservation system to “directorate” status with no congressional debate, no witnesses, no testimony, no public input.
The full secretarial order is here (PDF).
From the announcement:
LAS VEGAS, NV – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today issued a Secretarial Order elevating the Office of the National Landscape Conservation System and Community Partnerships in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to the level of a directorate within BLM.
“This action reflects the growing importance of the 27-million acre National Landscape Conservation System to local economies, to the health of communities, and to the conservation of some of America’s greatest landscapes,” Salazar said at the National Landscape Conservation System Summit in Las Vegas. “The BLM plays a special role in protecting America’s great outdoors for the benefit of all Americans – for it is the national conservation lands that contain the forests and canyons that families love to explore, the
backcountry where children learn to hunt and fish, and the places that tell the story of our history and our cultures. Each of these places within the National Landscape Conservation System holds special meaning to the American people and is an engine for jobs and economic growth in local communities.”
This National Landscape Conservation System was established as an integral part of the Bureau of Land Management by the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, a bipartisan initiative that responded to the critical need, as the population of the West increases, to conserve open spaces that are a unique part of America’s heritage. As an integral part of the BLM’s multiple-use mission, conservation is a long-term investment that provides quality of life and economic benefits for current and future generations.
Sheesh, what are you complaining about, Arizona? Obama has sent 30 members of the National Guard and had 15 warning signs put up. But no, that’s not enough — You just can’t please some people:
(CNSNews.com) – Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said requests by Arizona law enforcement personnel and Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) for 3,000 National Guard troops along the state’s border with Mexico have been answered so far with 1 percent of that number deployed there this week.
“We have a whopping 30 [National Guard troops] this week that are showing up,” Babeu told CNSNews.com. “It’s less than a half-hearted measure designed to fail.”
But the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has placed 15 signs along a 60-mile stretch of Interstate 8 that links San Diego with Phoenix and Tucson warning travelers of drug cartels and human trafficking operations.
Thirty troops, or as Obama’s calling it, “The surge.”
How much help was Arizona to expect from an administration that just condemned their immigration law in a report to the UN Human Rights Commission? If anything, those 30 troops are there to keep an eye on Jan Brewer and to report back directly to Ban Ki-moon.
Over the weekend, I spotlighted the White House “Great Outdoors Initiative” and the administration’s campaign for federal land grabs-through-executive fiat.
The Obama War on the West continues.
GOP Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah has released the complete Bureau of Lands Management memo outlining a stealth federal land lock-up plan covering an area the size of Colorado and Wyoming combined. Via the Colorado Farm Bureau:
Bishop’s office has release the entire BLM document titled “Treasured Landscapes” of which only pages were released a few months ago. It lays out what some consider a sweeping and detailed plan for changing the way the federal government manages land over the next 25 years.
The document lays out a sea change in the way the federal government manages land. It proposed that rather than manage individual plots of land, regardless of size, the government should consider managing entire “landscapes, ecosystems, airsheds and watersheds.”
The document also gives a not-so-subtle clue as to the size of the land area it seeks to “protect”.
“Of the 264 million acres under BLM management, some 130-140 million acres are worthy of consideration as treasured lands. These areas, roughly equivalent in size to Colorado and Wyoming combined, are valuable for their unspoiled beauty…”
It took Bishop months to get the document, which lays out the context for the snippets released a few months ago.
“They have clearly been dragging their feet, and they don’t want to let us know what they’re trying to do,” Bishop says.
He is especially concerned about portions of the document that recommend using the Antiquities Act “should the legislative process not prove fruitful.” The act gives the president power to designate a national monument with no public or legislative input.
BLM dismisses criticism of the document by characterizing it merely as “brainstorming.” It’s become the standard alibi for Obama officials caught planning radical changes through regulatory means outside the legislative process.
And remember those “listening sessions” I reported on over the weekend? As if you needed evidence they were stacked and biased in favor of the anti-jobs, anti-growth enviromental radicals, the Grand Junction Sentinel reports:
Listening sessions held across the country, such as one last month in Grand Junction that was attended by Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell and BLM Director Robert Abbey, are intended to allow Americans a say in the way those lands and others are managed, the statement said.
The Moffat County Commission, which opposes plans by the BLM to cordon off the Vermillion Basin from natural gas drilling, wasn’t invited to the Grand Junction listening session, “So there you go,” Commissioner Audrey Danner said.
The agency’s description of the Vermillion Basin notes its whitewater river as one of the attributes that makes it worthy of more conservation-oriented management, and that is “absolutely incorrect,” Danner said.