Interior Department

President Trump is touting his environmental achievements this week. But some environmental advocacy groups are not impressed. 

The Center for Western Priorities just released a new study that shows the administration has been almost unanimously approving de-regulatory policy changes requested or supported by mining and drilling groups. 

Federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are working on new legislation that would curb the Trump administration’s efforts to clamp down on the release of public records. 

The U.S. Interior Department may have complied with requests from an oil industry trade association to remove some environmental species act protections for a beetle, according to agency records. 

A controversial oil and gas advisory committee has been disbanded by the Trump administration, according to an interior department spokesperson.

President Donald Trump’s push for more energy development on federal lands suffered a setback last week when a federal judge ruled that his administration didn’t look at environmental impacts before lifting an Obama-era freeze on new coal leases.

Number of processed APDs during the lapse, according to the Interior Department. BLM Wyoming clarified the number has fluctuated up.
Department of the Interior

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved 267 applications for permits to drill (APDs) during the 35-day government shutdown earlier this year. About a quarter of them were approved in Wyoming, second only to New Mexico which shares the Permian Basin. 

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has been accused by Democratic lawmakers and nonprofit accountability groups of violating ethics rules, prompting a review by that agency’s inspector general.

Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt faced fiery questions during his senate confirmation hearing Thursday.

 


Democrats are likely to question acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt over his connections with industry during his senate confirmation hearing Thursday. The former oil and gas lobbyist has been criticized in recent months for appearing to help out clients he used to represent.

Screenshot from UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ruling
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

A Washington D.C. federal court decision has stopped future leasing on over 300,000 acres of Wyoming public lands. In 2016, several conservation groups raised concerns the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was not reasonably considering the impact of oil and gas lease sales on climate change.

President Trump’s proposed budget includes significant cuts to the Department of Interior, including the National Park Service. 

President Trump officially nominated David Bernhardt on Friday to become the nation’s next interior secretary as questions swirl about the nominee’s conflicts of interest.

National Park Service funding in 2020 plan
U.S. Department of the Interior

The Interior Department's Acting Secretary David Bernhardt released his first budget request to Congress. The 2020 financial plan promotes an "all of the above" domestic energy strategy. For Interior, that would mean adding hundreds of millions of dollars into streamlining oil and gas drilling and coal mining on public lands. It would also support increased logging within national parks.

When Ryan Zinke, a former Navy SEAL, resigned from his post as U.S. Interior Department secretary on Jan. 2, he was under fire on multiple fronts.

U.S. House Democrats are holding a hearing Wednesday to look at how the Interior Department paid to keep national parks open during the partial government shutdown.

Updated 6:36 p.m. MST

President Donald Trump took to Twitter to nominate David Bernhardt as the nation’s next Interior Secretary. The former oil industry lobbyist and longtime government employee has been acting Secretary since Ryan Zinke stepped down last month amid questions about his ethics and conflicts of interest.

U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management

Tom Meites is president of a small oil and gas company in Casper and he's planning a new project. He's begun the lengthy process with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to find new parcels for development, but has had to put it on hold.

Unlike previous administrations, President Trump’s Interior Department has directed national parks to keep their gates open while furloughing most workers during this latest government shutdown. But as the partial shutdown enters its third week, critics argue the parks are becoming unsafe.

A new rule proposed last week by the U.S. Interior Department could make it harder for news outlets and non-profit organizations to get public information on a range of federal issues.

 


The woman at the helm of one of the West’s most visited national parks – Grand Canyon – is under federal investigation.

Since taking power at the U.S. Interior Department last year, Secretary Ryan Zinke has been the subject of more than a dozen investigations by the DOI’s Office of Inspector General. Some are ongoing and the latest report was released Monday.

Mead Gruver/AP

Cheyenne lawyer Karen Budd-Falen has been tapped as Deputy Solicitor for Fish, Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior. She is well known for representing private property owners and local governments in disputes with federal land agencies.

A male Sage Grouse (also known as the Greater Sage Grouse) in the USA
Pacific Southwest Region U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from Sacramento, US

The U.S. Forest Service is proposing changes to sage grouse protections that would make it easier to develop — especially energy — on vast swaths of land where the chicken-like bird lives.

The Department of Interior just released a new science policy that it says will increase transparency. But conservationists are concerned. 

Some Steamboat Springs, Colorado residents are welcoming the Interior Department Secretary with a protest Friday evening.  Ryan Zinke is the keynote speaker at the Steamboat Institute’s annual ‘Freedom Conference,’ a private event.

No Review Of Federal Coal Leasing Program, Following Court Case
Western Organization of Resource Councils

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decided not to reassess the federal coal leasing program in a decision this week. 

The Trump administration’s plans to cut red tape on environmental projects is getting predictably mixed reviews.

A Wyoming rig on federal land used for long directional drilling
BLM Wyoming / Bureau of Land Management

The Department of Interior, or DOI, plans to begin the process of changing the methane rule that’s currently in effect, and possibly end it permanently. The Methane and Waste Prevention Rule aims to reduce unnecessary gas and oil emissions by improving technology, reducing flaring, and spotting leaks early.  

North Dakota Joins Wyoming Fracking Lawsuit

Mar 31, 2015
Joshua Doubek / Wikimedia Commons

North Dakota is joining Wyoming’s lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management over its new fracking for rules for federal and tribal lands.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says one of the major problems with the new rules is that they could dramatically lengthen the 10 months it now takes to get an oil and gas permit from the federal government.

Wyoming will get a say over whether the Yellowstone River is given a special federal designation.

Interior Department officials had said that the river might be considered a candidate for the National Blueways System, which is designed to promote conservation and recreation on rivers.

Wyoming's congressional delegation voiced concern that such a designation could limit the river's use.

Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso and Rep. Cynthia Lummis had previously said the National Blueways System was a federal power grab.