U.S. Interior Department

The Trump Administration is continuing to deploy park rangers at the U.S.-Mexico border to help with enforcement. And while national parks and other public lands in the West are feeling the effects, it’s unclear just how much.

The Interior Department’s chief watchdog updated Congress Wednesday on the agency’s efforts to curb a long-term pattern of sexual harassment. 

The Interior Department has walked back controversial efforts to curb public records requests in a final rule published Friday

NPS

An Interior Department committee is recommending that the National Park Service privatize campgrounds in national parks and offer services such as WI-FI and food trucks.

President Donald Trump intends to nominate a long-time Republican Hill staffer to help lead the nation’s largest land management agency.

Along with its new headquarters in Grand Junction, Colorado, the Bureau of Land Management is expected to bring hundreds of jobs to our region. But, there is some confusion on the specifics.

A congressional watchdog agency has decided that the Interior Department broke the law by using entrance fees to keep national parks open during the government shutdown this past winter. 

Electric bikes are coming to national parks and other public lands managed by the Interior Department. 

Duncan Harris, Flickr Creative Commons

A collection of conservation groups announced that it will fight against a move to reduce federal regulations regarding mineral royalties. The current regulations greatly increase the amount energy companies pay to the federal government.

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. 

Protesters dressed as swamp creatures kayaked down a river while others marched along a bike path, past private tennis courts and swanky swimming pools outside the hotel where governors met with Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

“My shirt says keep your oily hands off of Colorado's public lands,” says Chelsea Stencel, who was among the protesters. “David Bernhardt, the ultimate swamp monster.”

Flickr Creative Commons

A failure in oversight by the Bureau of Indian Affairs permitted the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes to misspend $6.2 million in federal funds between 2013 and 2015. 

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.

 

The details on the lengthy federal investigation exonerating Chris Lehnertz of creating a hostile work environment were released Tuesday.

BLM

The Trump administration is reducing grazing fees on public lands again. The new rate is the lowest the federal law allows.

Public Domain / Tom Iraci

More than 750 days into the Trump administration and the Department of Interior may be violating a little known-law. The Vacancies Act was designed specifically for top federal positions that are nominated by the president and need Senate approval. Anne Joseph O'Connell is an expert on the federal law and a professor of law at Stanford University.

Public Domain / Circe Denyer

Wi-Fi can be hard to find in the rural parts of our region. In fact, about six in ten rural Americans believe access to high-speed internet is a problem where they live. But that might change. Today the Department of Interior announced a new effort to increase access to broadband on federal lands.

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.

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.

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