Is The BLM Breaking The Law Again?
Sometimes the agendas come so rapidly it is difficult to keep them apart because at the core they all serve the same purpose.
Since the federal government no longer operates as three separate branches with the legislative branch assigned to creating laws, the Executive Branch and unconstitutional administrative rulemaking process now create laws that Americans are subjected to without any congressional involvement. Quite notorious are rules that are written under the Department of Interior (DOI). Given that the federal government now operates in bed with corporations and non-government organizations (NGO), many of the rules are created for the benefit of those groups and not us.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and its buddy corporations and environmental groups have been busy creating a new “rule” that will economically benefit the BLM, serve the ideology of environmental groups, and help the corporate world advance renewable energy projects. Not only are the Executive Branch and DOI handing over “public” land to corporations for renewable energy projects, but with BLM’s full participation, this proposed rule also advances the White House 30×30 agenda, a goal of conserving 30% of land by 2030. It is the rewriting of a regulatory framework that will put public land under the 30×30 classification for land conservation.
30×30 isn’t even a federal law passed by Congress, it is a dictate from the White House that meets an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) goal, a United Nations participant. That alone should negate any participation in 30×30, or through illegal rulings by the BLM. However, the DOI is an IUCN member through several of its agencies, so the same ideology is probably applied to the BLM.
The DOI announced its “Plan to Guide the Balanced Management of Public Lands” in March, putting “conservation on equal footing with other uses”. Other highlights include identifying “areas in need of restoration or conservation”, and building “on…clean energy deployment”. Its three-pronged justification is to “protect intact landscapes, restore degraded habitat, and make wise management decisions based on science and data” while incorporating “land health assessments” in BLM decisions on land use.
This proposed rule was released in the Federal Register on April 3, and folks are urging a rapid deployment before a possible flip in Congress in 2024. Now, if this were such a wonderful idea, why are they scared?
Just a quick summary of this rule provides the fluff. “Manage the land for multiple use and sustained yield by prioritizing the health and resilience of ecosystems”; “protect intact landscapes, restore degraded habitat”; “apply land health standards” (now there’s a scary thought); “clarify that conservation is a “use” within the FLPMA’s multiple-use framework”; and “revise existing regulations to better meet FLPMA’s requirement that the BLM prioritize designating and protecting Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs).”
By “clarifying” conservation as a use, the BLM is changing the law without Congressional involvement.
The Federal Land and Policy Management Act, as amended in 2021, does not address the classification of land for conservation leasing, instead emphasizing that land is used for its resources. Page 2(c) defines multiple use. Effect on existing rights, page 79(a), makes it clear that nothing can terminate the rights to use the land. Pretending that leasing land for conservation serves the purpose of multiple use is only a distorted fantasy. Through the DOI, the White House is revising the FLPMA law without any congressional involvement. Once again, the rule of law is ignored by the White House.
Buried deep in this rhetoric is a plan that should raise the hair on the back of the neck, “conservation leasing”. DOI’s definition of this is a “time-limited lease” allowing “interested organizations conduct restoration or mitigation activities…to facilitate development projects”. It will also “prioritize the identification, evaluation and designation of Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) through land use planning.” All of this means non-use.
PERC probably describes it best, “creating markets for conservation”. With this rule, the DOI is advancing public land as a commodity. The BLM will make an unknown amount of money because corporations can pay “to restore a degraded ecosystems” to “offset environmentally harmful activities”. Same with NGOs. Through NatureVest, the Nature Conservancy already has the program to exploit conservation for profit.
Opposite of what the DOI claims, that multi-use will continue in spite of this conservation, if a wealthy environmental group or corporation dumps their money into one of these leases, use can be denied, as either will hold the ability to “preclude the parcel from…grazing during the extendable 10-year term. The leases might also block future leasing for uses deemed incompatible with the conservation work.” It might become a mad bidding war between corporations and environmental groups to see who can buy up the most “leasing”.
However, perhaps unbeknownst to some, it has always been illegal for environmental groups to lease public land. This proposed rule removes that problem for them and really opens the door to their bank vault, tying up land across America. No wonder they love it. Perhaps quid pro quo? Companies have also been “requesting conservation leases”. No doubt, the DOI is serving its NGO and corporate constituents well.
To offset the damage from a renewable energy project, corporations will use the excuse to lease land either surrounding the project or in another area to offset that damage by restoring the leased land. In some instances, it is called “carbon offsetting”, which really appears to be more of a money game than making a real difference.
The insane idea behind this is that leased land would be saved for more public use because it would somehow be healthier. As the BLM goes about making its “health assessments” of the land, there is fairly good potential that more land will be identified as unhealthy and needing repair, then sucked up for conservation and non-use. With powerful and wealthy corporations and their rich NGO pals, the whole BLM landscape could be sucked up in restoration and mitigation projects through leasing. “Science” will surely be used to justify the land’s need for restoration. If NGOs love it, it has to be bad.
Temporary restrictions on use are part of the rule for restoration of degraded land. Keeping the land available for multiple use through this proposed rule is a lie.
Temporary restrictions while degraded land is restored can extend up to ten years. How long does land take to restore itself, or is that up to some bureaucratic technocrat? The rule also states it “would not override valid existing rights or preclude other, subsequent authorizations so long as those subsequent authorizations are compatible with the conservation use.” So cattle grazing would have to fit this new narrative or else, and with the hatred of cattle, no compatibility would probably ever be recognized.
So in between all of the malarkey of how wonderful this is to improve the land and make it available for everyone’s great-great grandkids, it is really a twisted way of taking land away from public use and making money off corporations and NGOs. For corporations, the excuse can be to offset greenhouse gas emissions they create, or “funding renewable energy projects” can be considered a carbon offset. How handy is that for renewable energy corporations?
The regulation calls for an assessment of all public land, its state of degradation, and need for restoration, which includes grazing land. For now, grazing is spared from this rule until the land can be assessed, but it is still a threat to the cattle industry and is in the 30×30 crosshairs for conservation leasing.
At least U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) understand this rule violates the law and will kill multiple use as land that is leased out for conservation will not be available for use under the Multiple Use & Sustained Yield Act (MUSY). He, along with Senator Jim Risch, have introduced a bill to stop this proposed BLM rule.
Of note, comments are being made by individuals who don’t even live in states where BLM land exists, many of whom live in eastern states. They think the idea of the BLM conserving the land is great without really understanding the full impact of this proposed rule, let alone understanding it is a violation of the Congressional role to create laws.
This is borne out by the significant numbers of canned support letters the NGOs tell them to use, just accepting what is spoon fed to them without taking the time to understand the issue. It seems most of these comments originate from The Wilderness Society. This is the ignorance we are up against and the herd mentality. Because the sheep are following orders, most of the comments support this rule. All comments can be browsed here.
Comments on this proposed rule can be made on this link, and submitted by June 20, 2023. To review the proposed rule, go to this link. Let the BLM know that this rule is illegal, that it only serves its corporate and NGO buddies, and will destroy the purpose of FLPMA for multiple-use.